As Hot Chip began “How Do You Do?” 50 minutes into a commanding performance at a House of Blues on Tuesday, a steady screech started up that didn’t belong with the pulses, whooshes, squiggles, and assorted other electronic effects in this English crew’s heady dance-pop. It only took a few bars for hundreds of sweaty young fans to begin covering their ears and protesting from the full floor. But even as lead singer and group cofounder Alexis Taylor searched for the source of the feedback, he and the six other musicians on stage doggedly kept performing the typically upbeat number, about “celebrating the light that bleeds through the pain.”
The song comes from Hot Chip’s recently released fifth album, “In Our Heads,” which continues the band’s 12-year streak of appealing to fans of both college radio and gay nightclubs with a synthesis of disco, house, pop, and R&B styles. The album title, however, confesses what the show confirmed: These straight, aging music geeks don’t share much with their audience besides the sounds in their heads. Live, instead of faking a pop persona, they get across by simply never relenting on their barrage of brainy-yet-friendly beats and textures.
The strategy has its drawbacks, as the attempt to ignore the minor technological mishap showed (eventually, the band did stop the song, to whoops of relief). Taylor’s light tenor also just sounded distant and reedy on stage, which only sank a soulful ballad like “Look at Where We Are.”
Mostly, however, the group combined its music with a blinding light show to build momentum like an expert club DJ might. From the opening old favorite, “And I Was a Boy From School,” to the final new encore, “Let Me Be Him,” the band sounded deeper, tougher, and funkier than on record. And after “How Do You Do?,” the group immediately got fans to wave their arms again with another upbeat number, “I Feel Better.” The show confirmed that title, too.