NEON INDIAN at BLUEBIRD THEATER | 10/10/11
In a year of terrible '80s remakes (Footloose, anyone?), Neon Indian's show proved that borrowed doesn't have to be staid. While the '80s were well and alive in the synth chords and frontman Alan Palomo's hip-swiveling dance moves, they came out of the mixing bowl exciting, invigorated and even, dare I say it, fresh.
While low on the stage banter, Alan Palomo made it count when he did speak. During "Deadbeat Summer," he muttered, "My falsetto is a little flat, help me out" -- even when his voice was spot-on the whole show. But the trick worked. A few people in the front sang along, while most of crowd at least leaned a little more aggressively. But Palomo's most powerful tool to get the audience to jam was his vigorous dancing.
Somewhere between Brooklyn (where the Texas native is now based) hipster and '80s pop star, Palomo turned his skin-tight-jean-wrapped legs in and out while his curly black hair bopped up and down. For a backing band, the foursome behind Palomo was incredibly lively. Leanne Macomber, the girl behind the synths and tambourine, even did a couple jumps toward the end of the set.
And the set played to the packed Bluebird crowd, one of the largest they'd seen on tour, according to Palomo. Despite having just released Era Extraña on September 13, Palomo offered a ten-song set that leaned heavily on 2009's Psychic Chasms, which, aside from a slight cheer for second song "Polish Girl," the first single off Era, was what the crowd responded to.
In contrast to Palomo's recordings, the mix here amped up the drums and bass and played down his vocals, making it clear that this was a dance show. While the folks behind the first set of steps rarely moved beyond a cross-armed sway, the front was a jump-up-and-down, heavy-on-the-spectacles male crowd lapping up Palomo's charm as he alternated between crawling up and down the microphone singing and hunching over two synthesizer setups.
After a long wait for the encore, with spotlights swirling, the band came out and played "Should Have Taken Acid With You." And like a scene from an '80s action film, Palomo walked off right after, saying into the mike, "'Til next time."
Openers Purity Ring and Com Truise prepped the crowd for the two facets of the Neon Indian performance: a cool kid band that lays down beds of noise with sweet, heavily processed vocal melodies, and some booty-shaking jams with noise and pay-attention-to-me drums. Both sounded great and did not fail to live up to Neon Indian's example of having a fucking load of electronics. (Though Neon Indian takes the cake on that one: I've never seen that much equipment on the Bluebird's stage.)
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Personal Bias: Before the show, I mostly listened to Neon Indian when I cleaned. Now, the act will get a more serious listen, especially Era Extraña. By the Way:The pompadour is apparently in: Three out of the four guys for Neon Indian had one. And Travis of Pictureplane was reportedly in the crowd. Random Detail: There were a lot of under-21s grinding to opener Com Truise. I guess it works because their set was basically hip-hop beats overlaid with noise, but you don't expect leaned-over, butts-out girls at a Neon Indian show.