Neon Indian at Turner Hall
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Sometimes you have to wonder about the Internet. Not long after turning Neon Indian—a.k.a. Texas’ Alan Palomo—into an overnight sensation, message boards and Twitter feeds across our great land quickly cried foul, claiming Palomo’s home-brewed synth-pop project was great on record but a horrible live act, unable to properly translate its bedroom noodling to the live rock stage. Warnings were sounded: If you enjoyed Neon Indian’s debut disc, Psychic Chasms, you would be horribly disappointed after seeing the group live. Call it yet another case of the Internet eating its young.
Luckily for Palomo and fans alike, the bad rap doled out to Neon Indian proved to be dead wrong, at least based on the evidence of Saturday night’s show at Turner Hall. Forget all the “emulator rock” or “8-bit” tags that get tossed around every time the group is mentioned; the only thing lo-fi at Saturday’s show was the ColecoVision-esque video projection screen looming over the stage. Beyond that, Palomo’s gauzy, washed-out psychedelia sounded firmly rooted in the present.
With the help of some surprisingly heavy drum work from Jason Faries, songs like “Should Have Taken Acid With You” and “Local Joke” sounded excellent. “Terminally Chill,” an early standout in the set, was bolstered by exemplary lead guitar wankery from Ronald Gierhart, and the gleeful presence of comely keyboardist Leanne Macomber.
Clad in a blue button-up and a pair of spiffy white slacks, Palomo himself resembled either the coolest—and youngest—yacht captain, or a Fraggle-haired stand-in for Caddyshack’s Danny Noonan. His stage demeanor recalled the shimmy come-ons of INXS’ Michael Hutchence, and was no doubt the reason for the phalanx of bronzed, mini-skirted babes milling about the crowd. Not content with merely tweaking dials while hunched over his array of keyboards, Palomo occasionally gave himself over to a Theremin. Somewhere, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion beamed in pride.
Making its way through an all-too-brief hourlong set, it wasn’t until Neon Indian launched into its hit, “Deadbeat Summer,” that the small-ish crowd came alive. Even so, the night never quite materialized into the blissed-out dance party it should have been. The group’s eclectic fans seemed somewhat aloof, and when bodies finally did start shaking, the ensuing dance moves could politely be called “ill-advised.” Luckily, the overall sound of the night made up for any deficiencies in crowd energy: This was one of the better-sounding Turner shows in ages.
Openers Beach Fossils, it should be noted, were a no-call, no-show, leaving the night feeling short and sadly malnourished. One can only imagine the endless Internet scorn quietly being prepared in their honor.