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"I've Never Experienced Emotion Like That Before": An Interview with Hot Chip About Last Night's Show in Paris

Amid a string of major gig cancellations, the British band were one of the few to go ahead with their Paris show. We spoke with Felix from the band.

It's been almost a week since the tragic and horrifying events of the Paris attacks on November 13th, which saw 129 people killed, many during the shootings in the Bataclan concert hall during an Eagles of Death Metal show. Since then, we've had a statement of solidarity from the band themselves, and defiance from the venue owners that the Bataclan will reopen - "We will not surrender," said the owner to Billboard.

Still, there has been a very understandable string of cancellations regarding major music shows in the city. U2, who visited the Bataclan on Saturday, cancelled two sold-out concerts in Paris. As did the Foo Fighters, Jose Gonzalez, Julia Holter and Marilyn Manson. Last night, Hot Chip, who were due to play the 2000+ capacity Casino de Paris decided to go ahead with their show, and it was put on by the same promoters who own the Bataclan.

The band have been on their European tour, with previous gigs in Antwerp and Amsterdam this week, and they wrote last night: "Waiting to take the stage at Casino de Paris, very honoured to have the chance to try and bring a bit of happiness to people tonight." As the gig went on, Twitter and Instagram was flooded with photos and clips from fans of the overwhelming, jubilant atmosphere at the gig. I called Felix from Hot Chip today to talk about how it went and what made them decide they should go ahead with it.

Hi Felix. I saw some of the pictures and clips from your show last night on social media. The atmosphere looked quite incredible and overwhelming.
Felix: It was a real one off, yes, but in very sad circumstances, and I don't think any of us will ever forget that show. We walked on stage and felt completely overwhelmed, basically in tears. In ten years of playing live music, I’ve never experienced emotion like that before. I could barely play my instrument because my hands were shaking so much. It was just the energy of people in the room.

Was there any tension at all?
We’ve been playing shows in Europe all week. We played Amsterdam on Monday and Antwerp on Tuesday. And you can sense the tension at the moment around big music gigs. It’s very weird to be in that environment and to sense people feeling uneasy and maybe a bit scared, because I am so used to the concert being a safe and sacred place. The idea of it being filled with violence and fear is so alien. At last night's Paris show, it felt like the people there needed an affirmation of what music should be. As for the atmosphere, that was out of our hands, it was nothing to do with our our performance. It was about the audience.

Have you felt much anxiety yourself about going on stage this past week?
No, not in a sense that we fear something violent happening. I can’t speak for everyone in the band, but we didn’t discuss this that much. We kept doing what we do. We only felt scared of letting our audience down and not giving them what they needed.

What did you say to the audience?
Al prepared some words, and he'd had help getting them translated to French. He read them out, and it give people a chance to cheer and be together. It created an atmosphere in which we could then do the show. And from the moment we started it got going. It didn’t take long for people to warm up, because you could tell they wanted it so much. They wanted to dance and have a good time. That's what they were there to do. That in itself was the most amazing thing about the experience. The fact that people were willing to come to the show and give themselves over to the experience was staggering. There was so much spirit.

What would you say to any other musicians or fans who still feel a little cagey about attending big live events at the moment?
I think it is understandable. Nobody can be judgemental about that. I imagine a few people didn’t come to our show last night because they were hesitant or scared. People have to respond to things the way they feel. Our emotions are too raw to be rationalising right now. But when you walk around Paris, which I did before the show, you realise how absurd it is that someone could attempt to try and bring this entire city down. People should be reassured by their lives continuing. If people do have those anxieties, I’m sure they will pass as time goes by.

I think the resounding advice being given out at the moment is to restore normality as much as possible.
I think so, yeah. On the other hand, I would have completely understood if the promoters didn’t want to do the show or people didn't want to come. But I am very happy that the organisers had the courage to go ahead with it and the audience had the courage to come and be a part of it.

Yesterday, @Hot_Chip gave the most beautiful concert in Paris. We were united to sing and dancepic.twitter.com/GVZ6qHC0cC

— Johnny B. Goode (@JohnnyBGoode) November 19, 2015

Was there ever any talk of cancelling it?
Not really no. In our own minds, if the promoter wanted to do it and people wanted to come then we were doing it. That was the most important thing. As long as they felt safe and secure. The promoters that work with us in France and have worked with us for years actually own the Bataclan club. It’s basically a family. They know everyone, it is a small world. For them, it was a big deal for this to go ahead. My overriding feeling is of privilege. It has been a horrible time for the people of Paris, and I feel honoured to have done that show.

Thanks for chatting Felix.