Published Nov 18, 2009The meteoric rise of 21-year-old Alan Palomo, doing business as Neon Indian, is an example of new media hype at its runaway-train finest. All the elements are there: blog-fuelled hysteria over single "Deadbeat Summer," rave reviews for the excellent full-length Psychic Chasms and a recent feature on ABC World News. So for a tour like this you knew that the kids would come. And so they did, packing Vancouver's diminutive Shine nightclub to the rafters despite weather that was about as bad as it gets in Vancouver.
The performance wasn't without problems, though. There isn't really a stage to speak of at Shine (it's more of a dance club), so unless you were exceptionally tall or had managed to wedge yourself up front, you weren't seeing much of the band. Not that there was much to see - Neon Indian collaborator and visual artist Alicia Scardetta's projections were seemingly absent from what is often billed as a sort of multimedia show, and Palomo and his touring band didn't do much to make up for it. Neon Indian is also a little short on material; the set lasted about half an hour, which was a little disappointing given the long wait (they didn't get started until 12:45 p.m., following nearly three hours of competent but unremarkable DJ sets). This meant that by the end of this Monday evening, most gainfully employed audience members had bolted for home.
Despite all of this, the show was a definite success. There is something exciting about Neon Indian - they have captured a certain cultural zeitgeist, sounding like the latest lo-fi sensation from the Woodsist roster peppered with the 8-bit nostalgia popularized by Crystal Castles. This may not bode well for their longevity, but for the time being, their hazy but danceable reimagining of '80s pop is one of the best things going. Augmented by live drums, and with synth licks flitting across the beats like acid tracers, Psychic Chasms tracks like "Terminally Chill" and "Ephemeral Artery" had the tightly packed audience swaying and bobbing euphorically, taking a short, sunny, drug-hazed vacation from the record-setting deluge outside.