Neon Indian at Neumos (all photos and videos by Bebe Besch)
If you walked by Neumos in Capitol Hill last Friday night you probably noticed the venue oozing elated people and smoke courtesy of Neon Indian. The chillwave outlet sold out of tickets early the day of, proving their fan base has grown in Seattle since their last visit. Alan Palomo, Neon Indian’s creator, spent his last sold out concert in Seattle at The Crocodile this past fall, performing many new songs off of his most recent release, Era Extraña, This time, however, Palomo and co. treated the audience filled to the doors with a contrastingly heavy mix of older tunes.
Both the single “Polish Girl” and “Future Sick” were among the few songs Palomo spent performing off of Era Extraña, to which his crowd reciprocated lyrics. Neon Indian’s less recently released songs were lesser known among the crowd though, as Palomo often spent his time engaging the audience for participation, but with less success. Once, during “Deadbeat Summer,” Palomo reached his microphone out towards the woman next to me for her assistance with the lyrics. After blushing with a shrug, suggesting she was unable to sing along for him, Palomo laughed and continued singing the simplistic lyrics on his own, which he’d been repeating for the better of the first half of the song, “Deadbeat summer, It’s just a deadbeat summer/Deadbeat summer, It’s just a deadbeat summer”. How embarrassing.
If Alan Palomo was phased by the few awkward moments in his set though, he didn’t show it. Genuinely, it appeared that Palomo was embracing only the positive in the set, as he smiled about halfway through the performance to say, “I think we’ll continue with the same rhythm for the rest of our show if that’s okay with you.” Determined to leave us each with a proper beginning to our Friday night, Palomo continued easing us in and out of boisterous tunes, trying to translate his enjoyment on stage to the floor below.
Alan Palomo loves effects. On each song he danced between his effect machine and keyboard, providing us with the space-age pop samples we each happily spent bopping to. Where folk tends to take its notes from natural inspiration, Neon Indian is the exact opposite. For each song, Palomo’s voice is altered through heavy synthesizing and overpowered by the many other layers of the unnatural melodies in his discography. Between verses, it was often that strobe lights made their appearance while Palomo’s silhouetted dancing was shown from the middle of the stage. Palomo is also obsessed with smoke. As a crowd, we spent most of our time chuckling as Palomo disappeared behind the corner of the stage for random periods of time or practically inside the back of his monstrosity of a smoke machine. He later explained in muffled English that he needed to tweak some technical things during his set at times to make sure everything sounded proper, but I think we all knew he was probably making sure the set was at its maximum smokiness.
Neon Indian perhaps had more visual stimulants than necessary for this performance at Neumos, but they were based on good intentions. Alan Palomo’s modesty and humanity juxtaposed the unnatural in their performance, with many handshakes given as he made his way off of the stage. A Neon Indian concert is tailored to the fan’s experience, and with efforts like Palomo’s and his team, it will be no surprise to see them sell out larger venues in the future.
Second to the stage was three-piece electro and garage pop group Lemonade. Based of Brooklyn, the quirky three men that make up Lemonade brought a tropical atmosphere to the stage at Neumos where it lacked in the night’s other performances.
Particularly within their song “Neptune,” Lemonade’s jungle mixed pop was well received with the energetic drumming of Alex Pasternak, who demonstrates his talents all while standing and singing back up. Ben Steidel appeared stage right on bass/keys and additional drums, and though seemingly far to the side of the stage and practically out of sight, Steidel’s movement was never stagnant – and constantly calling attention to his presence. The most surprising member of the trio was definitely lead singer Callan Clendenin, though. As a frontman, Clendenin made attempts to approach the crowd by moving closer and reaching towards us, but there was an underlying nervousness that followed his movements. Clendenin’s voice was a lovely, subdued wash of notes that complimented their relaxed electro, however with such soft vocal work, none of their songs arrived at a climax. Though tugging at his shirt and professed passion in his face, the intensity that lacked in Lemonade’s vocal department was really the band’s only hindrance. Perhaps Lemonade will prove me wrong in June, as the band will be back again to perform in our city for a round two.
At Neon Indian’s last Seattle performance, Purity Ring opened with a stunning set. This time, the band chose another female/male duo with Silent Diane from Texas. Their dream pop is lead by the enticing vocals of Christine Aprile, who typically woos with her fuzzy voice, but at other chilling moments a touch of anger sparks inside her intense lyrics. With her is Malcolm Welbourne who tackled bass duties with a laid back personality, helping Aprile to shine on vocals and keys. Their set was incredibly short but sweet, and even after Aprile accidentally spilled water around the cords near her feet, she pressed on to make sure we got as much Silent Diane as time would allow.