Neon Indian at The Bishop – 29 October 2009

About a year or so ago a friend of mine directed me to the MySpace of a band I had never heard of. I listened to a few of the songs and I thought it was pretty good. Nothing to write home about, but it sounded like it had potential. Well, I guess they did because lately they have been getting a lot of coverage from Pitchfork and around the blogosphere. The band is Neon Indian and they just released their debut LP, Psychic Chasms. I like the album and I saw them here in Bloomington at The Bishop. I covered the show and what follows is my review.

Originally published on The Live Buzz, 2 November 2009:

Neon Indian at The Bishop 29 October 2009 (13 of 15)

Last Thursday evening, chill wave giant and Pitchfork buzz band Neon Indian performed at The Bishop with local artist Spirit Spine. There was also an appearance by DJ Phenom, who spun tracks between performances.

Neon Indian at The Bishop 29 October 2009 (1 of 15)
Spirit Spine

I showed up near the beginning of Spirit Spine’s performance and noticed a few things right away. The crowd was unusually young and were arranged in a bizarre horseshoe shape away from the stage. Things like this often happen at concerts, although it usually takes one brave person to stand up front and persuade the rest of the people to follow suit. Eventually the William Wallace-type came in and the issue was resolved. Spirit Spine stood at his podium twisting knobs, triggering samples, and singing about who knows what. He sounded like Panda Bear and that got some of the kids dancing, although his alternative take on “I Want Candy” just creeped me out.

Spirit Spine finished and there was a mass exodus of youth towards the outside for air and cigarettes. Opting to stay inside, I was pelted almost immediately by some sort of amalgamation of house and techno music from DJ Phenom. Having seen Dinosaur Jr three times, I realize what loud is. This was way too loud. There is good loud (Dinosaur Jr.) and there is bad loud (house/techno/dance music blasted in a room with 10 people). It seemed like an odd choice.

I stepped outside for a while then came back in. It took Neon Indian a while to take the stage, then some more time to sound check and adjust their levels. The drummer and guitarist played along with some of DJ Phenom’s songs while the rest of the band got ready, which got a lot of the crowd dancing before the show even began. The guitarist was using a pedal that produced an effect similar to Peter Frampton’s TalkBox, but luckily he never asked us how we felt through it.

Neon Indian at The Bishop 29 October 2009 (8 of 15)

Neon Indian started the set with one of their catchier tunes, “Terminally Chill.” The group’s mastermind, Alan Palomo, danced in place between his keyboard and effects equipment, setting the poppy direction that the rest of the concert would take. Though their album and genre tag (chillwave) might not suggest it, the band was upbeat and even a little funky live. They combined the dance-pop sensibility of post-Hissing Fauna Of Montreal with the New York swagger of The Strokes.

Neon Indian at The Bishop 29 October 2009 (14 of 15)

The crowd was dancing the whole time and went especially wild when the opening notes to “Deadbeat Summer” came on. They played one song after that and then walked off stage to fairly loud applause. The applause lasted a little while and then stopped. Crowds nowadays expect an encore and don’t always seem enthusiastic enough to merit one. Nevertheless Neon Indian came back out (sans keyboardist) and played a funky new VEGA song that had a driving guitar riff. There was a lot of dancing and sweating, and when it was over I saw a lot of satisfied young faces. Like MGMT before them, Neon Indian has tapped into a youthful vein that wants to escape from the monotony of every day life, even if it is only for a few sweaty dance numbers.

-Photos and story by David Ray


~ by masterodisaster on November 3, 2009.

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