We're starting to sound like a broken record. (Pun not intended. Every DJ uses Ableton these days anyway.)
Hot Chip is easily one of the most influential electronic (or dance rock or indie electro or whatever you want to call it) acts of the past decade. They're almost this generation's New Order.
But if influence were measured by Ultra Music Festival crowd size, you'd think Hot Chip just started putting out records last week.
"Do it, do it, do it , do it, do it now," chirped the robotic voice. "Say it, say it, say it, say it, say it now."
Hot Chip was already about halfway through its set when we realized everyone who wasn't at the live stage at that very moment was missing an amazing show. The band had reworked "Ready for the Floor" into a more techno-driven juggernaut, while Alexis Taylor's signature falsetto vocals soared over the audience.
It was our first time seeing the band live, and we would skip Deadmau5's set, over and over, for eternity -- if it meant we could see Hot Chip play forever.
The English quintet seemed to be the opposite of every other act at Ultra. No masks, no gimmicks. The Hot Chip guys' dorky demeanor doesn't exactly make the groupies crowd around them. But when you have cuts like "Over and Over," "And I Was a Boy From School," "One Life Stand," "I Feel Better," and "Flutes" -- all of which were played at UMF -- you really don't need any cheap tricks.
Even when these Brits launched into the first song of the night, they didn't let a few technical difficulties slow them down. The vocals sounded fuzzy and the instruments too low, causing a mess of an introduction to Ultra-goers.
But the Hot Chip guys simply remained calm. And after that opening cut, they took a five-minute break for the festival's sound engineers to fix it. Then Taylor quietly said, "OK, guys, 'One Life Stand.'"
And keeping things interesting, Hot Chip never mimicked what had been achieved in the studio, instead giving the tracks an unpredictable, exploratory live quality. "I Feel Better" got an extended intro. "Over and Over" lost its bounciness and got a bit more funky.
Even the fireworks that were set off during Deadmau5's set didn't distract us. And soon enough, Ultra sent confetti raining over the small live stage crowd.
Which had us wondering: If confetti falls and there is no one there to see it, did it happen? Does it matter?
Hot Chip excelled at Ultra, even with all the obstacles placed in front of them.
But exiting the festival, we noticed how every other area seemed to be bursting with people. Is the era of the live stage at Ultra over? Are kids moving on to the more immediate rush provided at the main stage and the arenas?
Maybe the live stage is dead. Long live the live stage!
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