LTW’s Phil Ross ponders the new normal and what the future may hold with Hot Chip.
Plague, pestilence, war, famine and disease have reaped havoc and death on humankind since the dawn of time, but who could possibly have predicted that in the year 2020, lockdown would descend upon us with such crushing and devastating cruelty.
Covid-19 confined us to our homes for seemingly endless months. We cowered around computer monitors and laptops, seeking solace in Netflix and endless reams of gifs and TikToks that circled the globe. So many left scarred for life by the great toilet paper trauma.
But now we slowly emerge out into the so-called new normal, tentatively sniffing the air for danger signs, acclimatised to that funny dance we do in the supermarket around people wearing face masks. We are hungry to get some taste of life, as it was B.C. – Before COVID.
Offices, football matches, cinemas and theatres – to name a few B.C. activities – may never be the same again. So how can gigs operate under social distancing regulations and hugely reduced capacities? Smaller venues and bands face serious a existential threat without the government subsidy that the rest of the arts enjoy. If musicians’ incomes and opportunities for live shows remain shrunken for the foreseeable future, how will this impact on creative output?
Perhaps larger – especially outdoor – events hold the key to satisfying the pent-up demand for music. Such as electro synth-pop outfit Hot Chip at Dreamland, Margate last Saturday.
With barriers to separate pre-booked audience bubbles into their own enclosures and a reduced capacity of 250, I was a little dubious at the soundcheck that the event might fail to really kick off in any real way.
There definitely wouldn’t be any crowded B.C. dancefloor or sweating mosh pit but on the plus side, the open air, amusement park setting was surreally beautiful in a Westworld way. And the quaint, picturesque coastal town of Margate, touted as Shoreditch-on-Sea made for a cracking day out for many.
As the sun went down and Hot Chip came on to Huarache Lights followed by One Life Stand, I started to speak with the 10-15 people who occupied one of the vantage point bars overlooking the main arena. Most of them had come from London for the day and all were attending their first gig since lockdown. It had the feel of a private fan club show. In different words, they all expressed their joy at “being out” [of their houses] and meeting real people as opposed to virtual ones on computer screens.
Two different tickets for the show were advertised: high quality streaming from the live set to people’s living rooms (the cheap, safe option), and the somewhat exclusive physical show experienced in person. It seems that bands with an adequately sized fan base and sufficient crew and experience are going to be able to continue to tour. Hot Chip are a damned fine live band with damned fine catchy tunes, and a string of hit albums and singles. It was a joy to see both the bar staff and customers dancing euphorically to great tunes like Over and Over and Ready for the Floor. The encore consisted of excellent renditions of The Velvet Underground’s Candy Says and Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, culminating with I Feel Better from their UK number 1 album One Life Stand.
Streaming and socially distanced shows like Saturday’s will be the new normal for band and audience alike until there is some form of vaccine available for COVID 19.
It’s worth remembering that Hot Chip started off as Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard making music on an old computer in Goddard’s bedroom, and indeed continued that way well into their career. So perhaps over the next twelve months, as some form of lockdown continues, we’ll see some damned fine new releases from some damned fine bedroom artists.
I’m sure we will.
For all forthcoming events at Dreamland visit
To keep up to date with news on Hot Chip, visit their Facebook page.
All words by and photos Phil Ross. More writing by Phil can be found at his Louder Than War author’s archive.