Chromatics and Hot Chip at House of Blues Boston
If you saw the neo-noir crime drama "Drive" last year, then you may already be familiar with the Chromatics. The band's single "Tick of the Clock" was featured in the film and has helped the 4-piece from Portland, Ore., gain some recognition.
Chromatics, masterminded by Johnny Jewel, opened for the British electronic outfit Hot Chip at the House of Blues on July 17. Although they were the opening act, Chromatics' cool and removed style ended up being more interesting and compelling than headliner's gimmicky retro, try-too-hard attitude.
Wearing all black and grey, the polished and sexy band perfectly executed song after song from their 2012 record, "Kill for Love", 2010's "In the City" EP and 2008's "Night Drive." Chromatics opened up with a quick version of "Tick of the Clock" and moved on to play the killer jam "Lady." Jewel was on keyboard and spiced things up by adding additional riffs and breakdowns to most of the songs while lead singer Ruth Radelet cooed the band's dark but captivating lyrics.
One of the highlights of the set was "These Streets Will Never Look the Same," which featured guitarist Adam Miller’s vocals doused in the always controversial auto-tune. Nearly 10-minutes long, the song sounded as though it belonged in a horror movie and thanks to the eerie blood-red lighting that covered the band, Chromatics turned an expected normal concert into a dramatic and cinematic experience.
The band made sure to play highlights, including "Kill for Love," "Back from the Grave," and the brilliant "In the City," as well as their popular Kate Bush cover of "Running Up That Hill" and their hypnotic version of Neil Young’s "Into the Black."
After the Chromatics finished their 10-song set, they quietly faded into the House of Blue’s stage’s abyss and made room for Hot Chip to perform.
Hot Chip, a London-based band, played the equivalent of a soda can that was just shaken: they hammered out a string of powerful hits until they fizzled out and performed several lesser-known songs. But it was obvious the crowd was feeling the vibe and were totally satisfied with what Hot Chip were pumping out. The band, which has eight members, opened up with their most popular song "Boy from School" from their 2006 album "The Warning." Then lead singer Alexis Taylor (who was wearing just a quarter of a jean shirt with giant eyeglasses) belted out "Don’t Deny Your Heart," from their new record "In Our Heads." The tunes kept flowing as the quirky band played the smooth jam, "One Life Stand" and "Night to Day."
After a few slow songs that were a bit disengaging, Hot Chip wrapped up and did the typical encore thing; came back and played a few more tracks.
The majority of the audience devoured Hot Chip’s dance songs and boogied until they couldn’t boogie anymore. But it was Chromatic’s ice cold but dynamic and talented performance that left the biggest impression.