Hot Chip & Factory Floor - Heaven, London 13/06/12
Photos by Dan Smyth
I'm only going to heaven if it feels like hell.
I'm only going to heaven if it tastes like caramel
So Hot Chip sang on 'Hold On' back in 2008. Four years and two albums later, the now seven-piece are in Heaven in the week of the release of their latest album, In Our Heads. Though in an inspired move, before the counter-culture national treasures make for the stage, it's Factory Floor time for the support.
The room quietens and some modest synths begin. Have they started yet? Yes of course they have, those repetitive bubbling tones are unambiguously from the three-piece of Factory Floor.
Gradually, the sounds grow and slowly start to encompass the room, before awakening the senses aggressively one-by-one in an almost methodical tick-list style. Crunching melodic electronics for your ears: check. Abrasive strobe-filled lightshow in between total darkness: check. Touch through the savage vibrations that pulsate through your body: check. So it goes.
The first 10 minutes is a continuous build, layer upon layer of driving synths, vox and pounding drums, with the whole package a delightfully hypnotic krauty-techno hurricane.
I've been fortunate to see FF a few times in very different places over the years - though tonight is arguably the best yet. This is largely in part to Heaven's superb sound-system, so every nuance and evolution in sound is picked up - something that is vital to FF's output. The mostly organic drums in particular are tremendous, cymbals crashing to significant moments and so damn crystal clear.
There's no break for 25 minutes - the transfixing set essentially adhering to the classic build/rise/fall mentality of a techno mix. But it's done with so much variety, subtly and class that you can loose yourself wholly in the moment and forget a) Where you are and b) Who you are. Now, where did I leave my DMT?
In summary, Factory Floor live are a completely fucking devastating experience. Woah, and we've all still got the headline to go (think they're called Hot Chip?). Awesome.
'Motion Sickness', the opening track from the new album also opens the night, with it's muted synth-klaxon intro, before bleeding into old school favourite 'Boy From School'. The boys link them in astutely, as the tickling synths providing a nice bridge between tracks as 'Boy From School' gets somewhat of a funky transformation compared to it's recorded state.
Now, I remember vividly when I first got into Hot Chip; as an impressionable youngster I used to avidly read through the pages of Planet Sound on C4 Teletext. In one of their Singles round-ups, a track of theirs, 'Colours', scored the full 10/10. Being a naive, trusting type, I went straight to my local and purchased it, and I have forever been indebted to Teletext for sparking this love affair with Hot Chip. Thank. you.
Anyway, these thoughts come back to me tonight; how retro and geeky Teletext is, and even how retro and geeky it was in it's pomp; a delightful, anachronistic eccentricity that somehow worked. Somewhat summing up Hot Chip in many ways? Yeah, why not.
'Don't Deny Your Heart' is one of the stronger - well, more immediate tracks from the album and sounds full of vim and vigor here. But it's 'One Life Stand' that provides the first 'hands-in-the-air' moment of the evening; the stage extends out and Alexis Taylor struts/shuffles into it as he coos in his distinctive, heartfelt tones. And oh my, One Life Stand as an album has really aged well huh? The lead single totally kills it. 'I Feel Better' just prior to the encore demonstrates this further - the intro a fucking masterclass in skeleton synth-pop; then becoming an almost unrecognisable beast as it evolves for the latter half. Cue the lights to go ape-shit. It's all too much, too much serotonin, too much love. It's beautiful, it's beatific.
Many new tracks from the album are thrown in between older material, which the packed and sweaty Heaven crowd sing back in enthused verbatim. Inevitability it is of course the more well-known tracks which get the most rapturous reception, but all tracks get a hugely warm and kinetic greeting.
Post-Encore the deadly double-act of 'Hold On' and 'Ready For the Floor' are everything you'd expect and more, the sound of hedonism funk turned up to 10. Heaven is in danger of having it's roof blown-off, which would be an inconvenience for the passengers on Platform 4 in Charing Cross station above. No stage chat is present tonight (Joe Goddard barely visible for much of the show), but none is needed; the music, and dry sometime-sardonic lyrics etching the wry smiles onto faces.
Future anthemic number 'Let Me Be Him' closes (after a quick Fleetwood Mac cover), and although it's a come-down from the energy of the previous two from Made In The Dark, it's grand designs and quality are evident tonight. The 'Oaaaaahs' and Aoooooaaahs' reverberate through the brickwork as the crowd leaves to the street.
Not content with providing five albums of supreme quality, Hot Chip have shown tonight how to translate them into a stormingly brilliant show; and in doing so cement their place as arguably the greatest live act in Britain currently.
Heaven is nowhere, just look to the stars