Published Apr 21, 2010London's the XX are a great opening act for the same reason that Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On never goes out of print: foreplay matters. Fresh off a recent Toronto headlining slot, the deservedly hyped combo returned to warm-up duties for dance pop behemoth, Hot Chip.
The XX's stellar debut album thrives on dreamy, entrancing arrangements, circular melodies and hypnotic percussion, all of which their live show painstakingly recreates. Cuts like "Crystalised," "Shelter," and "VCR" translated into enrapturing, head-nod anthems, enthralling a rambunctious crowd. The result was mesmerizing, if not overwhelming, priming atypically eager punters for a school-night dance party.
Like Dizzee Rascal, Hot Chip "got the big beat," and no matter the muddiness of the mix, it translated into venue-wide bouncing. Massive bass drums steered "One Life Stand" and "Hand Me Down Your Love" through sections of spotty sound, while tribal percussion on "One Pure Thought" fused smoothly with disco melodies. Conversely, buried vocals and synths hampered "Boy From School" and "Alley Cats," which should have been crystalline.
Regardless, the joyous crowd largely ignored sound problems, writhing to the grooved-up guitar of "Over and Over" and chanting along to the New Order-inspired dance rock of "Thieves in the Night." For their part, the band kept things playful, bantering about Glaswegian bricks and offering up Old Gregg impressions.
Four records in, Hot Chip's pinko-inspired act, complete with symbiotic multi-part vocals (especially on "Take It In"), has a marked sheen and impressive cohesion. Most tracks built cathartically, thriving on the fusion of sonorous rhythm and smooth melody. Sure, the sound struggled in sections but the set's sheer ebullience largely compensated.