Live review: Hercules and Love Affair at Metro
“Blind,” the Hercules and Love Affair single featuring Antony’s vox, is the common ground between the young scenesters talking about their Hot Chip and the just-heard-it-in-the-gay-bar-last-night crowd—both of whom are too young to have heard house music the first time around, but still waited in line for the HLA midnight show. And speaking of house, why doesn’t the Metro book an old-timer, say Lil Louis or someone of that caliber to spin before the Hercules live set? The band is just blatantly in love with 80s house music. No offense to Bald Eagle’s mini set, but there are some line-ups that just beg to be put together for the sake of musical reference points.
Around 12:30, the eight-piece Hercules took the stage nonchalantly—Butler himself arranged the water and towels for his band—and launched into a megamix of the mutant disco from its debut album on DFA. “We love Chicago because of house music,” enthused Butler before he disappeared behind a massive bank of keyboards.
Upstage, two frontwomen couldn’t have had more different aesthetics. Kim Ann Foxman worked a boyish all-black Teutonic club kid look, a jog-dancing style and took most of the vocal duties while the towering Nomi flailed limbs to the sky in a slinkier manner. There were no diva glares; instead, the two would have a laugh every time they danced toward one another.
Hercules was mixed loud—loud enough that Butler at one point asked the crowd if its ears hurt as much as his. The all-live house-disco band didn’t improvise, thankfully, but maintained a purposeful thumping beat. The first six songs segued together with sequenced rhythm tracks filling in the space between, like a DJ spinning to a 707. Funky and metronomic, the band still hit the ecstatic highs and the moody lows on songs like “Athene” and “You Belong to Me.”
And not taking itself too seriously, Butler introduced the sax and trombone payers as “the horny boys,” before the band launched into a disco version of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” At points, if I closed my eyes it sounded like the young Madonna had joined a “Blue Monday”-era New Order. The group also debuted a new tune with lyrics about Jupiter and Saturn—but with virtually no breaks between tunes, it was all over in a flash, around 70 minutes to be exact. The youthful embrace of this disco big band was encouraging. An hour goes by pretty quickly when you’re dancing, not matter how old you are. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel teased.