Hot Chip

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to warm the cockles (and other body parts for that matter) on a cold, cold February evening it’s some quality electro pop…and it doesn’t get much better than Hot Chip. Creators of some of the catchiest electro classics of the past few years (step forward ‘Over and Over’ and ‘Ready for the Floor’) 2010 sees them celebrate their tenth anniversary (good grief… tempus fugit) with the release of their rather fine new album ‘One Life Stand’.

First up though – and a bit of a nice surprise this (as I hadn’t seen him/them billed) – Grovesnor.

Grovesnor

Fronted by a certain Rob Smoughton (who later cropped up as Hot Chip’s drummer) Grovesnor are a homage to the great late 70’s / early 80’s sounds of bands like Steely Dan, Supertramp and Hall & Oates. In other words the kind of spotlessly polished gloriously glossy pop that indie and lad rock was supposed to have killed off. Unashamedly retro – and all the more fabulous for it – I can’t remember enjoying an opening act quite so much for ages.

Grovesnor

Coming onstage to a shout of “Eric Clapton” from one of the audience (to be fair Rob does bear a passing resemblance to slowhand himself), the Grovesnor machine delivered a good half a dozen soulful pop classics in the making from Nightmoves (with its slowed down Supertramp ‘Dreamer-esque’ intro) through to the 80’s Europop tinged ‘Drive Your Car’. Yes, I’m a closet MOR pop whore and proud of it. Grovesnor may be square but, as Huey and the boys put it (I’m really not doing my reputation much good here am I eh?), “it’s hip to be square”. Slip on a white suit, roll up your sleeves, pour yourself a Babycham and stick Grovesnor on. If it don’t make you feel a million dollars I’ll eat my Filofax.

Grovesnor

Next up, all the way from Norway, it’s CasioKids.

Casiokids

Taking the brave (but quite right) decision to sing in their native Norwegian tongue added an exotic, slightly other worldly feel to their set. It also gave me the chance to interpret what they were singing in my own way. So (in my head at least) I heard a song about the difficulties of parking a Sherman tank in supermarket car parks and a lovely little ditty about licking salt off your lover’s eyebrows.

Casiokids

As well as singing in Norwegian they favour (as the name implies) old skool technology, cheap (nowadays at least) and trashy keyboards together with the instrument du jour, the cow bell…several cow bells in fact…I counted at least six…all played with the kind of youthful exuberance of a bunch of 8 year olds with ADHD. Brilliant.

Casiokids

That just left Hot Chip then.

Hot Chip

If they’d only ever released ‘Over and Over’ that would be enough reason to go and see them, but they’ve got a hard drive stuffed full of clever, catchy pop hits and tonight’s set saw them stream a fair few. Sure, they may look like a group of Science teachers on a field trip but the Academy was full of trendy young things gagging for their Chip fix. The set kicked off with early single ‘And I Was a Boy From School’, in many ways the archetypal Chip track, dancey enough to nod your head to but with enough lyrical content to get the old noggin thinking as well.

Hot Chip

From there on in it was one Chip classic after another, including, as you’d expect, a fair smattering from arguably their best album so far, the newbie, ‘One Life Stand’. There was the Giorgio Moroder-tastic ‘Thieves in the Night’, the touchingly sombre ‘Brothers’ (sung by fellow Chip vocalist Rob) and the steel drum infused ‘One Life Stand’ itself – a worthy addition to the Chips legacy, right up there with ‘Over and Over’ and ‘Ready for the Floor’ for sheer catchiness. Funky electro, dirty synths, sweet breaks and Alexis angelic voice… pure magic.

Hot Chip

In fact throughout the set Alexis’ soft and gentle vocal provided a delicious counterpoint to the beats and bleeps – something very human in the midst of all this technology – which makes the Chip that rare beast (these days at least), a band that’s as good to listen as it is to dance to.

Hot Chip

There was plenty of bopping going on around me as well. Predictably ‘Over and Over’ got the biggest bop of the night going but, for a good hour and half, a several hundred heads nodded away furiously like that Churchill dog. Oh yesyesyesyes.

Hot Chip

As someone who grew up with the sounds of the Human League, Heaven 17, Soft Cell and Blancmange on his Walkman it’s gratifying to see that a band like Hot Chip can still do something fresh with electro pop. Chip’s off the old pop as it were…yes, you’re right, there was no need for that was there?

Hot Chip

Hot Chip

Words by Daron Billings, email me.
Photos by Wayne Fox, email me.

4 Responses to “Hot Chip + Casiokids + Grovesnor @ O2 Academy 1, Birmingham, UK – 20 February 2010”

  1. Mark Salmon Says:

    Hey guys,

    I was the other photographer there that night. Awesome review and great set of photos, keep up the good work and I’ll be sure to keep checking your site out.

    Mark

  2. Wayne Says:

    Lovely to meet you and you are welcome Mr. Salmon.
    Signed:
    Mr. Fox.

  3. Wayne Says:

    PS: you can see more photos, here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wayne_john_fox/sets/72157623481965164/

  4. Daron Says:

    Cheers Mark, much appreciated! Good meeting you too.

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