Neon Indian

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By Sarah Mudler

On Oct. 11 the vibe at Metro Chicago was a flashback to its dance hall days, though the players were undoubtedly a bit different. Filled with ravers, electronica lovers and hipster kids, the crowded house welcomed Mexico-born, Texas-raised Alan Palomo and his newest project — glo-fi chillwave outfit Neon Indian — along with electro-pop trio Class Actress and producer Scott Herren's alias Prefuse 73.

Touring in support of his debut 2009 release Psychic Chasms, which received a best new music rating by Pitchfork magazine, Palomo and his bandmates have spent the year tirelessly playing everything from small venues and late-night television shows to major festival stages at Bonnaroo and Pitchfork Music Festival.

Without a curtain to disguise set changes, the audience hooted and hollered as each band member took the stage to set their instruments while Palomo smiled sheepishly at the offenders. The atmosphere was more warehouse rave than proper rock show with the stage framed by a simple white sheet and filled with musical odds and ends.

When the band reclaimed the stage as performers, the backdrop filled with brightly colored images reflected through a projector at the front of the house. The knowing audience members threw their arms up in the line of the streaming light, making shadow puppets that danced to the beats, truly becoming a part of the show.

Making note of the audience's antics between songs, Palomo joked, "I see we have some puppeteers in the audience."
Keyboardist Leanne Macomber could have walked right out of Robert Palmer's video for "Addicted To Love," donning bright red lipstick and a tightly drawn-up do and methodically swaying to the music while drummer Jason Faries and guitarist Ronald Gierhart looked more suited to a '70s rock band. Along with indie-prince Palomo, somehow it all came together to not only make sense, but produce one unforgettable stage show.

The ever-energetic frontman, Palomo heaved and lurched and tossed his signature curly locks to the '80s synth beats, while jumping from keyboards to other musical paraphernalia, only taking breaks to add his syrupy lyrics to the noise. Like a musical mad scientist, Palomo performed his experiments onstage while maniacally turning knobs and tweaking his pile of gadgets and gizmos between each song.

Halfway through the hour-long set, Macomber took to the tambourine and jumped in time with the music, which the crowd quickly mimicked as they launched into the Pitchfork acclaimed "Deadbeat Summer," praised as one of the magazine's top 100 songs of 2009.

Palomo yelled, "Everyone!" as he encouraged the audience to sing along with his sweet "ahs."

After taking a short break, the band tromped back onstage for an encore of a few Vega songs (one of Palomo's other projects), and as Palomo took to the keys he asked, "You guys wanna hear one more?"

And with that, they drove into more dance party musts, leaving the stage in a blur of guitar shrieks and distortion.

To catch Neon Indian in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

Set List
"Local Joke" (iTunes>)
"Terminally Chill" (iTunes>)
"Mind, Drips" (iTunes>)
"Psychic Chasms" (iTunes>)
"Should Have Taken Acid With You" (iTunes>)
"6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know)" (iTunes>)
"Deadbeat Summer" (iTunes>)
"Ephemeral Artery" (iTunes>)
"No Reasons"
"In Too Deep"

(A Midwest girl at heart, Sarah Mudler joined The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter in 2004. Coming from a Detroit rock background, she has expanded her musical interests into everything from pop to blues to jazz to gospel, and even a little country now and again. She can be seen haunting local Chicago venues almost every night of the week, and is currently the Senior Project Manager for the Chicago Chapter.)

(Photo information: Neon Indian perform at Metro Chicago on Oct. 11 / Photo: The Recording Academy)

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