Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend

Rialto Theatre, Tuesday, Sept. 23

Tucson lucksters were afforded the opportunity last week to witness what was most likely a one-time-only double-billing of Vampire Weekend and Hot Chip. The bands aren't touring together; the coupling was made possible by seretipitous tour schedules and on-top-of-it booking skillz.

"We played Tucson 15 months ago at Solar Culture; were any one of you at that show? That was a long time ago ... we had to sleep on the soundman's floor," reminisced Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig to the sold-out crowd.

The enthusiastic affirmative response makes it clear that Vampire Weekend have made it to that "next level," where a band's early shows become the stuff of legend--"I saw that band before their first album broke. There were only, like, eight other people there!"--considering that half the people who cheered in response to Koenig's question could not even fit inside Solar Culture.

Regardless of whether the attendees were aware of Vampire Weekend then, they certainly are well-schooled now: It appeared that everyone knew every word to every song. The band was adorable and engaging, all awkward, skinny-legged, unabashed preppie-boy energy, with Koenig and bassist Chris Baio dancing around each other like joyous, spasmodic giraffes in heat.

After what felt like an inordinately long break between sets, London Town's Hot Chip took the stage and started things off with the guitar riff from Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa." Very cute, boys.

For anyone out there who holds on to the archaic viewpoint that electronic dance music is cold and emotionally disconnected, Hot Chip proved otherwise. The music was layered, nuanced, emotionally fraught and just plain big. The band took full advantage of the Rialto's new top-notch sound system with a range of instruments: multiple guitars, keyboards and a wide array of drums, both modern and primitive. With an abundance of enthusiasm and energy, the performance felt like a jam session, but it was clear that Hot Chip had tight control, ensuring the music never became a cacophony--even at a song's most heated point, the vocals always shone through.

Hot Chip ended the night with a cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U," bathing the theater in transcendent purple light.

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