With a sold-out crowd practically worshipping them on Friday night at the 9:30 club, Hot Hot Heat had enough motivation to pull off an intense, high-energy set marked by the constant bobbing of their mop-like coifs.
Lead singer Steve Bays started off the show on a good - no, fantastic - note, with the unprecedented arrival of a pair of teeny panties at his feet. The audience continued to impress, as hardly a soul kept still during the hour-long set. The band's enthusiasm mirrored the audience's wild reverence for it.
"Wow, I forgot how much fun it is here," Bays said over the cries of quivering teenage girls.
Bays' distinct yelp of a voice sounds exactly as it does on the band's albums, which is a very good thing. His high-pitched and offbeat tone sound a bit produced on the recordings, yet he has expertly mastered his live projection.
Bays alternated between singing and bopping around to singing and bopping around while playing his keyboard. His Mars Volta-esque mass of curls was a single entity that moved with him. Bass player Dustin Hawthorne hypnotically swayed his bass back and forth, keeping with the rhythm of his band mate.
The band is on tour promoting its forthcoming release, "Elevator," due out April 5. It opened with "Goodnight, Goodnight," a tune full of interesting tempo changes and syncopation that is part of the album's preview.
Songs from Hot Hot Heat's last release, "Make Up the Breakdown," dominated the rest of the set list.
"This is a dancing song," Bays announced before leaping headfirst into "No, Not Now," an obvious fan favorite.
The entire sound of the set wasn't as clean as on the band's albums. The crisp notes of the keyboard muffled against the loud drum and bass. The latter instruments, however, did more than just grace the songs with their presence, as they sometimes do in the recordings.
The final songs blew the crowd out of its settled dance patterns and into new ones. "Naked in the City Again" was a masterpiece of vocal talent. A Futureheads cover snuck its way into the set, and the band took a brilliant new spin on the Brits' original and tight harmonies.
Not to go unmentioned is opener Louis XIV, up-and-coming indie rock favorite. Most of their tunes bombarded the audience with power chords, but their loud, conversational nature helped the set stand out from other similar scene newcomers. The prize pig in their case was "Finding Out That True Love is Blind," a sung massacre of political correctness.
Hot Hot Heat proved themselves as outstanding performers, and not just because of the hair. After this superb presentation of morsels, new and old, things are definitely looking up for "Elevator"