all words: Andy Hess with an assist from Julian Vu
all photos: Julian Vu
Chromeo @ 9:30 Club Set List:
New Song, Outta Sight, Tenderoni, Call Me Up, Waiting For You, Needy Girl, Bonafide Loving, Nice ‘N Clean, New Song, You’re So Gangsta, Night By Night, Mama’s Boy, Fancy Footwork // Don’t Turn The Lights On, I Can’t Tell You Why, 100%
With the anticipation mounting to an almost unbearable peak, the subwoofers kicked on and the chants of “Chromeo-ooo-oh” filled the venue. As Dave-1 and P-Thugg straddled their lady-legged synths and kicked off the first stop on their Business Casual tour with a new cut before jumping right into a batch of old favorites.
Coming with hit after hit Chromeo had the entire venue moving. Literally. The bass hits on the subwoofers shook the building. Obvious highlights were the Chromeo standards “Bonafied Lovin’”, “Needy Girl”, “Fancy Footwork” and “Mama’s Boy”. The new material that was peppered throughout the set was received well and didn’t destroy the enthusiasm of the casual fan.
A few rarities were thrown in as well: “I Can’t Tell You Why” from their DJ Kicks session as well as “Nice ‘N Clean” from their appearance on Yo Gabba Gabba.
There was no Journey or confetti explosion, but the 9:30 Club was treated with a tight, fun show that was a perfect nightcap to an otherwise boring Monday night. Hopefully they’ll be back sooner rather than later.
Note: I was late to the show, so Mr. Julian Vu has a recap of Holy Ghost! and Telephoned. Word.
Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser are studio hounds who have perfected the DFA sound. Their sound is undoubtedly disco, with touches of 80’s and 90’s (that’s right, 90’s) funk strewn across their mixes. It’s difficult to resist getting addicted to the hooks of their singles “Hold On” and “I will come back”, and their remixes are equally catchy and solid. It’s clear that they’ve got the golden ears when it comes to producing their own tracks, as well as remixing others. I would even go as far as to say that there’s a very distinct New York sound that comes out of their music. All of this hype around their music is well deserved; they’re hard working in the studio, and all of the efforts pay off in their releases.
Therein lies the problem; as the releases began to increase in number, so did the demand for a live Holy Ghost show. (They had been doing dj-sets for quite some time up until recently). In another interview, HG! mentioned that they had been asked to do a live show, but being only two guys, they weren’t sure if a live show with a backing track would be enough. In the same interview, they mentioned that if they ever did tour live, they would have to do it right, and do it big possibly even taking practically all of their studio on the road with them; hardly an easy task when copious synthesizers are involved. As production on their new songs carried on, so did the notion of a live show.
Holy Ghost had even found musicians to help back the band, one of which was late mega-drummer Jerry Fuchs. After his passing, the band decided to put the idea of touring live on hold. Now back at it again, the now foursome HG! touring band has been out on the road opening up for big names like LCD Soundsystem, and currently Chromeo.
Being on the same bill as the aforementioned is no easy task. Most of the shows have been sold out, and for a band still in it’s touring infancy, it’s tough when the crowd doesn’t bite. I was hoping that the crowd would bite at Monday’s show at the 9:30, and the only sign I could see was most of the crowd lightly nodding their heads with the beat, followed by somewhat halfhearted applause between songs.
Did Holy Ghost put on a terrible show? Not at all. Despite having technical difficulties in the beginning, the set was tight. Millhiser is scary good at keeping in time with the sequencers and drum machines. The synth sounds were very rich, and the space-echo guitar riffs helped carry the set through. Why didn’t the crowd bite though? Perhaps because Alex Frankel’s voice gets lost in the mix easily. I wanted to chalk it up to the 9:30 club for providing a bad mix, but that’s an unlikelyhood seeing as to how every show I’ve been to there has had impossibly good sound. This is perhaps evident of the struggle between being a touring band, and a recording band. Some can very easily cross between the two. Unfortunately for Frankel, his voice comes across better on tape, at least thus far. Who knows though, I still think it’s too early to make a judgment.
Frankel’s got the pipes, he just needs to hone his live singing more. I like to think of it this way: world-renowned disco producer Giorgio Moroder was undoubtedly the hottest disco producer of the 70’s. Everyone in the DFA circle looks up to him (just listen to the most recent Juan Maclean album’s opening track). Moroder however, was never much of a touring musician. He hated it, and preferred the studio. I’m not saying that Frankel is one in the same with Giorgio in this respect, and I hope he never ends up trapped in the studio. Holy Ghost’s live show is 90% sonically perfect. A few more touches and tweaks, and you can just about call them my new favorite live band.
It was pretty unanimous across the board that everyone who was there for Telephoned came in with the lowest of expectations. A DJ with a mediocre singer belting out jams to backing tracks isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of a exciting or even “bumpin’” time.
Telephoned however, realized the notion that if you are an opener, 110% enthusiasm is a moral imperative. For opening bands, I’m pretty sure that somewhere between only 20-30% of the crowd will actually be open-minded, whereas the other 70-80% is comprised of kids securing a spot for the headliner. Mathematically speaking, the opener really has to “bring it” if they want to walk off the stage not feeling dejected. Well I’m happy to report that Telephoned indeed brought it. The DJ, under the moniker “Sammy Bananas”, had a sort of enthusiasm that was refreshing to see in a town whose DJ’s like to mimic Kraftwerk’s dance moves.
Maggie Horn, the singer wasn’t half bad either; she dance and sung as sexily as one possibly could at 7:55pm. The sun might have even still been up at that time. By the end of the set, the majority of the dancefloor was dancing along in approval of this opener. Even if most of the songs were bass-heavy covers, the covers delivered; including ones of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Chromeo. There’s a jovial demure in Telephoned’s stage presence, and quite frankly fit in so well with Chromeo’s “Business Casual” theme.