Last Night: Neon Indian, Prefuse 73, Miniature Tigers at the Granada Theater

Neon Indian, Profuse 73, Miniature Tigers
Granada Theater
October 5, 2010

Better than: the album, which is a miracle for an electronic act.

Thumbnail image for alanpalomo2.jpg
Stop hiding, Palomo. We see you.

Few Dallas acts have non-Dallas acts opening for them. Even fewer electronic acts can boast about having a live show that enhances instead of degrades the material. But the Dallas-bred, Austin-wannabe Neon Indian pulls off both of these.

The beginning of the show started like that of any other indie electro act. Video screens on the sides flashed what looked like M.I.A.-inspired .gif's of old movies. Lead singer Alan Palomo then entered the stage and proceeded to rock his plethora of synths and Theremins. He was soon followed by the other band members--guitarist Ronnie Gierhart, synth player Leanne Macomber and drummer Jason Faries--who entered the stage and went to their respective instruments.

Without a word, they began the show with an infectious beat and even more infectious melody. The packed crowd, filled with more women than men, began dancing like there's no tomorrow. This was a local show for local fans--and no one here was gonna be convinced otherwise.

And the revelry was to be expected: Neon Indian's live show is a lot less lo-fi than the album suggests. The rock drums had a reverberated echo that hit you in your gut and the synth/guitars sounded top quality. With each song, you could make out who was playing what--something that's usually difficult in bands with multiple synth players. 

Gierhart, fitted with a video screen on his guitar, soloed multiple times and showed capably that Palomo isn't the sole virtuoso in the band. Instead of just showing how fast he could finger pick--and yes he was fast--he also added a certain amount of emotion lacking in other electro band offerings. Palomo similarly showed that he knew how to play; he excelled in his Theremin solos, and, well, he actually made a Theremin look cool. The overall effect was that he made something electronic sound human--another impressive feat.

One setback, though, is in the bass lines, which came piped in through the monitors and hurts the illusion of the live show. Another setback: The rather formulaic playing. The band played a dancy-song, followed by an arty bridge, followed by a super arty transition, followed by the next song. And they repeated this formula almost the entire show.

Near the end of the show Alan commented on how everyone in the band lives "like 25 minutes away from here." Huh. I guess I didn't realize that Austin/Brooklyn was only 25 minutes away.

Overall, though, Neon Indian showed that they are really taking Dallas music, and live electronic music in general, to the next level on entertainment. The quibbles were minor ones--and no one in the adoring audience seemed to mind.

Maybe they were distracted by their glowsticks?

Opening act Miniature Tigers also had the crowd dancing and clapping and they provided some good soundscapes and even a rain shaker.

Second openers Prefuse 73, though, stunned, offering up an incredibly interesting performance. Live, they come across like like N*E*R*D, with double-drumming mixed with Flying Lotus soundscapes and hip-hop vibes mixed with a lot of acid. I guess thats what happens when you have one guy from New York, one from Chicago, and two from Brazil. This is definitely a band worth watching and keeping up with.

Critics' Notebook
Personal Bias: Being raised in Denton County, I'm a bit sour about Neon Indian's decision to officially abandon their homeland.

Random Note: The theater was packed from front to back. Mostly indie crowd.

By The Way:
Don't glowsticks go against the very idea of chillwave?

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