via IndyWeek by Allison Hussey
The Hot at Nights began with a guitar. In 2010, Chris Boerner acquired a bizarre-looking, custom-made, eight-string contraption built by a local luthier. Drawing upon its range of quirks and capabilities, Boerner was able to play guitar leads and bass lines at once, essentially handling half a band himself. The acquisition inspired Boerner to pursue new musical ideas—and find some new bandmates to do so.
Boerner, a Raleigh native, met sax player Matt Douglas and drummer Nick Baglio through mutual musical acquaintances. They played together sporadically in other bands before founding The Hot at Nights not long after Boerner’s purchase.
Though each member has a jazz background, that’s only the band’s foundation, not a limitation. Each player weaves elements of rock, funk and soul into the seams, creating songs that are technically intricate and melodically enchanting. Boerner cites jazz iconoclasts The Bad Plus as a key influence for this mission; like The Bad Plus, The Hot at Nights play jazz-minded instrumental material—loudly.
“It’s not something you’d stick in the corner of a restaurant,” Boerner says of both acts.
Trying to put the band’s new EP, Cool It, in any one corner would be a mistake. The Hot at Nights transmogrify five songs by North Carolina acts. Bowerbirds’ folksy “Bur Oak,” for instance, becomes a warm, heady number that blooms patiently, while Hammer No More the Fingers’ “O.R.G.Y.” gets a bit of sizzling funk. Elsewhere, The Hot at Nights have turns with songs by Delta Rae, Future Islands and Sylvan Esso, folding those acts into their jazz-plus mentality.
“Especially on a creative tip, there’s never walls that can’t be broken down,” says Baglio, “never any limits.”