Photo by Maxine Builder
One look at the members of Neon Indian, and it becomes abundantly clear how these five kids from Denton, Texas became hipster darlings. Three out of five of the band members sport well-maintained beards, and the other two compensate for their lack of facial hair with perfectly hip hair-dos. Their look when combined with their synth-heavy indie pop music makes for a killer amalgamation, and they let their hipster flag fly at their October 20 show at the Brighton Music Hall (which is the hippest venue in Allston, which is the hippest neighborhood in Boston. Duh).
The show began with a surprisingly big – if loud and potentially seizure inducing – bang. The otherwise dark stage was illuminated by flashing pink and yellow lights and a strobe light, set to an extended electronic distorted whine. The band entered after three minutes of this and ferociously launched into their set. Neon Indian is the brain child of Alan Palomo, and his performance did not disappoint. His head of curly hair was bopping the entire performance as he moved from one synthesizer to another.
And those synthesizers are what make Neon Indian’s sound what it is: perfectly poppy indie dance music. My friend described it as “Reading Rainbow swag,” in reference to the theme song of the early 1990’s public television show. All of the songs were upbeat and danceable and relied entirely on synthesizers to drive the melody forward. However, the flow was constantly interrupted by what sounded like demonic video game noises that were meant to constitute transitions. The sound did change for a moment, though, when Palomo introduced a song off of their new album Era Extraña – which was released about a month and a half ago. This song featured both bass guitar and electric guitar. This track had a much more full-bodied sound, and Palomo’s voice seemed much richer.
This song was one of two surprises at this otherwise standard show. The other was how nice Palomo was with the audience. Although his appearance gives off an air of aloofness, Palomo was shockingly nice and funny. He joked with the audience saying, “I know Thursday is the college Friday” and seemed genuinely pleased with the size of the crowd. The band also played many tunes off of their first album Psychic Chasms including “Deadbeat Summer” and finished the night with an encore of their first single “Should Have Taken Acid With You.”
All in all, the show was pleasant. Nothing unexpected happened, but no one was left disappointed either. Neon Indian both catered to their core fans while showing why they deserve more than merely the adoration of hipsters. Although they still do wear a lot of flannel.
Neon Indian will be on tour through December. Visit their website for ticket information.