I’m generally skeptical when it comes to established theologies. I just can’t subscribe to the notion of a single set of beliefs uniting a crowd. So you could imagine my shock when I had my first religious experience at the Henry Fonda Theater during Hot Chip’s November 18 performance.
In the company of hundreds of Angelenos, I waited with excitement for five nutty Londoners to take the stage. The lights went dim and the crowd howled as the members of Hot Chip came out, taking their respective positions at the keyboards, guitar and drums. Looking out over their gathering of loyal subjects, these seemingly average Joes began pounding out above-average beats and rhythms. Suddenly every body on the floor was in motion — heads bobbing in unison, shoulders bouncing to the beats, toes tapping out rhythms.
An infectious groove radiated from the stage and struck the audience during “Careful,” but we were anything but. I wasn’t alone in feeling this otherworldly force take over: every pair of arms was thrust into the air, swaying in ecstasy. To my left, girls writhed in interpretive dance. On my right, spirits were exalted to a higher plane. “Just Like We (Breakdown)” kept the holy alliance between stage and crowd strong as we sang along word for word.
With the madness ensuing on the floor, I was surprised to see the objects of our adoration staying collected, but behind the semicircle of instruments, each band member seemed to be in his own little world. Even with their eyes shut, spinning off into their own dimension of musical madness, each contribution formed the perfectly blended cohesive force of electronic pop that kept us in the groove.
Drenched in sweat and hoarse from screaming, our energy levels should have been dwindling by this point. But the opposite was true: We pooled every ounce of enthusiasm we had left for “Over and Over” — this year’s “House of Jealous Lovers.” The onset of guitar and synthesizer made us jump higher, scream louder and dance harder than I thought possible. Consumed by rhythm, the crowd madly worshipped at Hot Chip’s altar, speaking in tongues of beats and melodies. I witnessed a display of intense enthusiasm and response to rival those seen on evangelical cable, and it became clear that Hot Chip had absolved us of our rhythm-less sins.