In which eight musicians present a mutated, majestic take on Andy Butler’s studio gold.
The weeks go by and the NYC electro-house bands just keep showing up at the Metro. This time it was the disco revivalist Hercules and Love Affair, founded by DJ Andy Butler. As most know, HALA’s buzz on the whateversphere since the release of their eponymous debut album has been nothing short of ridiculous. A year ago, Butler was laying down dance tracks with DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy and some session musicians. Friday in Chicago, Andy and company began the first leg of an intense world tour that’s seeing them hit about 15 countries in 40 days.
It’s a testament to the complexity of HALA that Butler needs eight people live to recreate that sound that he achieves on his own in the studio. Those on the stage definitely had no collective look – Kim Ann Foxman wore an oversized black t-shirt with black jeans and black shoes while Nomi Ruiz donned thigh-high black boots and a black miniskirt. No, it was midnight, the lights were off (or damn near), and they were there to play some disco. Disco about myths. Mythical disco.
For those thinking the absence of Anthony Hegerty would be the only thing keeping HALA from emulating the album, they found themselves quite mistaken. Tracks were massively rearranged, sped up, slowed down, and, in some cases, mashed together. However, this was hardly a bad thing. Songs that went over well on the album translated equally well to the late-night-dance-crazed, notably “Blind” and “Raise Me Up” (where Nomi filled in rather admirably for Hegarty). I wish I could say that “True/False” and a disco remake of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” went over better, especially as the former is excellent on the album. They weren’t bad by any means, but just lagged far behind the energy zenith that was “Blind.”
However, in 2008, it’s pretty phenomenal to see eight people on a stage with the sole purpose of creating disco music. It would take a real curmudgeon to hate on a Hercules and Love Affair show, where Andy Butler and company just want to make you dance (the band introductions from a jubilant Butler took almost two minutes to dish out at the end of the show). It was fitting that HALA brought their first fall show to Chicago, the house that house built. Let’s hope the rest of their tour goes just as well.