Tonight a couple of firsts: 1) First time to a Central Park SummerStage concert. 2) First time to see British electropop group Hot Chip. I didn’t really know what I was in for as I’m not a rabid fan, but still a minor fan nonetheless. My affinity for Hot Chip is really tied to Welsh singer-songwriter Duffy, who brilliantly covered their “Ready For The Floor” on YouTube back in 2008. Tonight they’re back in New York to promote their latest album (and their fourth total), One Life Stand. So far I’m a fan of SummerStage. A bunch of my friends are here, and have met a couple new ones. It’s hot as hell. So muggy, so sweaty, but a nice breeze provided relief every 10 minutes or so.
I’m having mixed emotions about Hercules and Love Affair (above), a musical project led by New York-based DJ Andy Butler. His concept is to collaborate with a really cooky cast of characters from gig to gig to perform his music. Kim Ann Foxman is a regular in the group, who performed tonight, as well as two more (female?) vocalists and two dancers. I was turned on to them through a friend who posted a series of their videos on YouTube. The videos I watched over and over featured Kim Ann and Nomi Ruiz, now of Jessica 6, who’s sexy, raspy voice sort of reminds me of Alison Moyet with just a touch of Boy George. I’m really intrigued with Nomi’s voice, and I was disappointed she no longer performs with Hercules and Love Affair. You can bet I’m going to stalk this super talented artist. Check out “Fun Girl” and “Not Any More” on iTunes now. Hercules and Love Affair’s “You Belong,” “Athene,” and “True/False Fake/Real” are worth a look online. Watch them in order and see the sun progressively set over New York. Amazing. But tonight, I didn’t feel the magic I felt watching those rooftop videos.
Finally Hot Chip took to the stage on this hot night. As I mentioned, I don’t know Hot Chip’s music very well, so I don’t have a lot to say except I liked what i heard. They closed with “Ready For The Floor,” the only song I really know and it was great. My observation is that the members of Hot Chip have never had a free consultation with a stylist, and I really, really like that about them. Remember Christopher Cross from the ’70s and early ’80s? Talented songwriter and musician, but didn’t have the “look” to make it in the advent of the MTV generation. His career went from topping the charts to complete obscurity before you could say, “when you get caught between the moon and New York City.” Enter Alexis Taylor (above), the man who helms Hot Chip. He looks like Howard Fineman, Newsweek magazine’s chief political correspondent, senior editor and deputy Washington bureau chief. But it doesn’t matter. I’m encouraged that in 2010 a really talented group like Hot Chip can carve out their own space in the music world with a solid fan base without relying on the superficial aspect of this business — style, fashion and good looks. The bottom line is that great music rules.