Concerts Concerts Chilling Out with Neon Indian

Chilling Out with Neon Indian

Neon Indian at Lee's Palace
Neon Indian
Class Actress
Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON
October 12, 2010

Photos and Review by: Courtney-Lee Yip

It’s been almost a year to date since Mark Hogan of Pitchfork gave Neon Indian’s debut album Psychic Chasms an 8.6 out of 10, and a spot on their list: Top 100 songs of 2009.

The buzz following Alan Palomo and his Neon crew has grown from a resurgence of chillwave music over the past few years as we heard in Panda Bear’s highly received Person Pitch in 2007 and the awesome early work of Beach House circa 2006.

Last Tuesday, Lee’s Palace slowly filled up with a seemingly hesitant crowd, myself included. I might be taking a risk in assuming this, but I felt this apprehension stemmed from the feeling that we were about to watch a movie that has had months of hype behind it.

Class Actress

To make matters more stressful, opening act Prefuse 73 cancelled last minute, leaving duo Class Actress to take the stage after a long and empty wait. Elizabeth Harper’s chilly voice eventually swooned across the empty mosh-pit, bouncing across the recessed floor, eventually weaving to each of the patrons sparsely decorated around the venue. Their noise-synth sound was a fun re-incarnation of 80's dream-pop, but lost its edge after a few songs. It’s nothing we haven’t really heard before and this made my expectations for Neon Indian waver ever so slightly.

Before I knew it, Class Actress had finished their final song and the members of Neon Indian blew into the venue with a bang, setting up their never-ending amount of electronic equipment frantically. Their hurried approach was due to a mishap at the border and the half an hour it took for them to set up pushed my anticipation almost through the worn-down roof.

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Neon Indian

About less than halfway through Neon Indian’s performance, my mind wandered back in time to Beach House’s performance with Vampire Weekend about a month ago. It dawned on me: chillwave sounds so much better live. Not only was every aspect of Neon Indian’s set a lovely visual feast, their commitment to energy perfectly set a backbone to their album that is hard to hear when I listen to it now.

Guitarist Ronald Gierhart’s moves seemed to match the groovy waves of colour on his LCD screened guitar, while Palomo bounced back and forth between keyboards, synths and a theramin. With keyboardist Leanne Macomber and drummer Jason Faries rounding out the band, all I can really say is that these four deserve every bit of media praise. You just might have to see them live to fully appreciate it.

Bottom line, my preference for seeing Neon Indian perform in the flesh versus listening to them in stereo may be more of a curse than a blessing. Mostly because now, every time I listen to them, I'd rather be dancing to them playing live in a club than be in my apartment dreaming of my long-gone Deadbeat Summer.

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