Live Review

Neon Indian, Magic Stick, Detroit

The members smile knowingly at each other, as if aware of an inside joke.

Neon Indian

are not a band you look at and think, “I bet they’re going to blast summery, lo-fi pop about acid tabs and getting naked by the pool.” All of them, aside from the seated drummer, are around 5’6”, dressed in dark colors, rarely smiling, and slow to begin, sluggish like the fuzz that is draped over all of their songs. As soon as their music starts to play, frontman, Alan Palomo starts to shake and twist like a kid from the 1950s. The members smile knowingly at each other as if aware of an inside joke, tempered by synths that sound like tinkling glass falling from a skylight.

That’s what make these dark eyed, darkly dressed musicians a pleasure to watch - even though they don’t elicit more than a jerking of shoulders, a minor rotating of hips, they draw the crowd into their eccentricities and personal friendship, while still being aloof. They charm while being inside of themselves. Palomo never smiles at the crowd, curly hair bouncing over his eyes, staring upward into the dark ceiling, while singing the light, bird chirping ‘Terminally Chill’. Guitarist Ronald Guirhart keeps his face away from the crowd, monitoring his instrument on the nearly danceable, 80s romp ‘Psychic Chasms’. Leanne Macomber tinkers behind her keyboard in the dark of the stage, drawing scant attention from the crowd only when Palomo nods in her direction. Drummer Ronald Geirhart hides in the back bouncing up and down to his simple tom heavy rhythms.

Not a one of these insecurities or shying-away matters. Their live performance is a joy in its novelty, newness, and raw admittance that they, like the audience, are warming up with the short, 35-minute set. Two songs into the set Palomo asks the sound man to turn the computer up “a little bit” and then he clumsily transitions into the third song. At this point the show begins to wind up and tighten its screws. They sift through the eerie and glossy ‘6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know)’ transitioning with a mash of reverbs and pedaled guitar. The middle of the concert is a pleasant, hazy blur, maturing into their crystalized, final three original tracks - almost sad ‘Should Have Taken Acid With You’, their most well-known song, warbly synth sing-a-long ‘Deadbeat Summer’ and the only track that raises fists to the air and brings shoulders bumping together, that drum and bass laden track ‘Ephemeral Artery’. Sadly, they decide that a familiar, but, ultimately, unrecognizable cover track should be the closer. It seems like the wrong decision, considering all the energy they have kneaded tightly together at the end. Still, the crowd accept this mistake willingly as an apology for the concert’s brevity.

Their candid awkwardness was the gel that huddled the crowd into stage center - seventeen year old hipsters, cross-dressing twenty year olds, and University frat boys alike. It felt important to warm up with them and slowly shake slackened, uncertain limbs into motion.

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