Live Review: Hotel Lux
In today’s unsettling climate of ignorant leaders, sexual predators and a solution to a killer disease still pending, a post-punk resurgence seems the only fitting mode of expression. It would be easy to situate Hotel Lux amongst the acts being produced by Speedy Wunderground such as Squid and Black Midi, however, the added pub rock ambience of this London five-piece creates a more accessible and intimate audience-performer relationship.
The set in its entirety was short but succinct, with the band taking to Twitter to question why they ‘played the whole set at 100mph’; nonetheless, Hotel Lux were convincingly ferocious and electrifying. Leaving little breathing space between songs, the opening track led into Berlin Wall, a gritty tale of suppression under hegemony. Having listened to it a great deal prior and enjoyed the combination of post-punk aggression with the electronic fairground rings, the live version was impressively harsher and more impactful, demonstrating the band’s distinctive and memorable stage presence.
In terms of instrumentation, Hotel Lux is formed of a drummer, two guitarists (one who also mastered the keys), a bassist, and lead vocals. Simple as this setup may seem, the string heavy performance was certainly effective, creating a resonant jangle-pop sound and consequently dismissing the recent resurgence of jazz fusion in the alternative/indie scene.
Aesthetically, the band certainly incorporated the fashion essentials of the experimental, post-punk scene of today: tattered un-tailored jackets, reminiscent of a young Pete Doherty; a clashing accessory, in this case a black ushanka-hat; and over-worn docs or vintage Reeboks.
The crowd was difficult to gauge, fluctuating from middle-aged Radio 6 Music listeners reliving their mod days, a young Harley Quinn lookalike, and unnecessarily long-haired youths heaving themselves into one another in attempt to create a small mosh pit. Despite the keen energy in the middle of the crowd, there was a politeness to the moshers – one bloke swung his Red Stripe around his head and forcefully threw it in the air, only to delicately catch it again.
'The live version was impressively harsher and more impactful, demonstrating the band’s distinctive and memorable stage presence'.
In the midst of the set, Hotel Lux played a few unreleased tracks, including Ballad of You and I – a softer, more poetic piece that eased the crowd for the catchy and stomping anthem, English Disease. The band’s repertoire carefully intertwines high and low culture references, demonstrative in their name, which was the name of a communist safe house in Moscow. However, English Disease combines the two, celebrating the ‘lad’ culture of drinking Stella Artois and waiting for Match of the Day to start with civilized philosophical conversations about Jean-Paul Sartre.
If you have been enjoying the poetic charm and roaring intenseness of Dublin’s Fontaines DC, arguably Hotel Lux offer equal ferocity and a similar sound, though incorporate more references to ole’ Albion. With a few more years on their shoulders, the band could certainly follow in the footsteps of obvious inspirations like The Fall and Wire, whilst offering a youthful approach and an awareness of emerging trends and society’s misdoings.