I've been trying to see Neon Indian for a while, but either the show is sold out or the guest list is full. (I don't always get comp'd - Concert-log is a personal diary of nights spent in concert land. Therefore, I'm not treated as if I were a reviewer from the New York Times or Rolling Stone.) This time I bought a ticket, as soon as the show was announced, with a Ticketmaster gift card I'd been holding on to. I'm glad I made the purchase because Neon Indian exceeded expectations.
The show opened up with Lemonade, a trio which I previously saw open up for Kollareven in March of this year. As I stated the first time I saw Lemonade, they didn't feel "settled in." From what I remember, the execution of their songs felt a bit shaky. However, on Saturday night Lemonade felt like they were sitting on the sofa with their feet on coffee table. In other words, the sound in the room was good and their playing was really tight.
I just recently noticed that Lemonade are set to play Music Hall Of Williamsburg on June 2nd which I'm sure will be in celebration of their new CD Diver. Lemonade had just started touring when I saw them in March in preparation of their CD's release. Judging from what I saw and heard, I'm confidant in stating that their touring has paid off.
With songs like "Neptune," there is a lot about Lemonade's music that feels very freestyle. What most leads me to think that is Callan Clendenin's melodies often sound more conversational than lyrical with almost a latin music sort of flavor. Like the chorus of Neptune: "Let me speak to you so I can show you all I want is to sort this out and this really won't do, no, no." Many parts of the lyric are like run-on sentences.
I do want to make it clear that Freestyle wasn't all I heard in Lemonade. There was also a bit of house that I heard in "Big Changes," a song where drummer Alex Pasternak prompted the crowd to clap along.
Before ending with "Softkiss," which is the same song they ended with the last time around, Lemonade did a newer song called "Vivid." It also had a freestyle feel to it with Ben Steide playing a keyboard patch, which sounded to me like a kalimba (tumb piano). Now that I've seen Lemonade twice before their album drops, I hope I see them again somewhere six months down the road.
Lemonade's Set List
Callan Clendenin (vocals),
Ben Steidel (synths, bass)
Alex Pasternak (drums, programming)
Ducktails is the solo project belonging to Matt Mondanile which on Saturday night was represented by a 5 man band. According to Mondanile's Artistwiki on-line bio, Ductails' music is classified as psychedelic, lo-fi, experimental, tropical and drone. From what I heard, the drone applied more to Mondanile's vocals than his just music.
There's no way getting around my saying that Ducktails made me feel like it was 1972 and I was listening to a neighborhood band play their first dance. Though I never watched an entire episode, I'm sure Ducktails would fit in nicely on That 70's Show. Ah, but maybe that's the point, It took me a little while to get past Mondanile's voice which was like listening to Lou Reed circa Velvet Underground, after taken an Ambien. But once I did, starting with their first song, I kind of liked the bands laid back guitar feel.
"The Mall" with it's psychedelic sneering high pitch guitar covering the vocals made me reminisce about long gone 420 moments when I laid on a shag carpet and stared at the ceiling. The following song made me feel like I should get up from the carpet and go outside and smoke a cigarette. (I don't do those things anymore.) Some songs just sound better when you're outside and the sound is left echoing in the room.
Before doing "Hamilton Road," Mondanile nerdly admitted the band was from New Jersey and thanked all his friends form the "Tristate Area" for coming. The song, like it's promotional video which you can see on Youtube, is goofy but nonetheless cute in a Disney Channel sort of way.
Ducktails pretty much mid-tempo rocked along for the rest of their set, all the way up to their song "Killen The Vibe." Right after that song, Mondanile asked if they had time for another song. (I'm never quite sure where performers are directing that question because the place is so big) As with all of Ducktails songs, it was short (felt under 3 minutes) but this time is was a fast instrumental.
Not sure about Ducktails, there were parts of their set I liked and others not so much. But the audience enjoyed them, so I guess I will just say they weren't my cup of tea and leave it at that. Then again, at a different time, maybe a different venue - I might love them.
Ducktails' Set List
1.Sit Around with Ya
3.Don't Make Plans
6.Under the Covers
7.Killen the Vibe
Matt Mondanile - guitar, vocals
Alex Craig - guitar, vocals
Samuel Franklin - drums
Ian Drennen - organ
Luka Usmiani - bass
I had seen Neon Indian's name in many concert listings but the first time I actually got to hear (him) them was on Soundcheck,WNYC. Oddly enough Moby was guest hosting the show that day, so it was like one electronica geek to another. (Maybe Nerd, notice how many times Moby claps after every song.) I was more impressed when I later heard the Internet soundclip of the segment online, which you can hear below. Originally I heard the show on the alarm clock I have on my work desk. Since I work in downtown Manhattan the reception...sucks. (Can't hear it on computer because of the bank firewall).
The show actually started with the lights going down, as smoke rose up on stage. Vertical neon lined panels, that were set around the stage, lit up and started forming some funky color mixtures within the lines. I noticed a man with a laptop, upstage left, off to the side as if he were hidden. I didn't know at the time, but that man was Johnny Woods controlling the visuals. I just assumed Woods was responsible for the oscillating sound that was playing as the band walked out.
The audience cheered as Mr. Neon Indian, Alan Palomo walked on to fiddle with the moog that was placed centerstage. Once the drums kicked in, Palomo broke into his dance steps for the song "Local Joke." Palomo swayed back and forth to the side of his moog before dancing a few short steps, over to mic, to sing. The vocal was flat as I expected but worked in the context of the song.
Watching Palomo dance around stage for most of the evening, I felt as I did when I saw Robyn. Both performers are small in stature but feel comfortable on a big stage, by that I mean they own the space; they look comfortable on it and the way they dance around is as if they are skating in a rink.
Though I was really more focused on Palomo, I couldn't help notice all the funky shapes and patterns that were being made on the vertical lined panels. The next two songs were from Neon Indian's most current CD Era Extraña. Palomo did some playing on his moog for "Hex Girlfriend" but stood mostly at the mic for "The Blindside Kiss."
I know most of Neon Indian's songs but not by their titles. I usually keep track of a set list by writing down a song's lyrics but it was very hard on Saturday night because the vocals had lots of heavy reverb which made it hard to distinguish words. Luckily, Neon's Indian's publicist was kind enough to verify the set list which I had mostly right.
The packed audience cheered as soon as they heard the sequenced pattern that starts "Mind, Drips" and cheered again once they heard Jason Faries drums come in. And of course, they sang along. During the song keyboard player, Leanne Macomber, joined Palomo on vocals as the repeating sample of "It's not your fault" played. I can't help but mention that Macomber's look was very Isabella Rossellinigone goth.
After performing "6669 (I Don't Know If You Know)" which Macomber also sang on, Palomo introduced her as being featured playing slap bass for the next song "Fallout." Palomo then introduced the rest of the band including Johnny Woods as a special guest, while a synth pad sound played underneath Palomo's introductions.
"Arcade Blues" was the part of Neon Indian's set when the momentum seemed to be pushed up a notch. Palomo did most of the singing upfront while moving to the very edge of the stage promoting the audience to clap. As the audience became part of the band's energy by jumping in place and clapping along, one guy even body surfed. From that point on out Neon Indian kept the hits commin', the audience stompin', and the lights flashin' till the end of the show.
After ending with "Ephemeral Artery," Neon Indian came back for encore ending on a high note with "I Should Have Taken Acid." (Pun intended) At T5, On Saturday night, Neon Indian was insistent on the audience having a good time and we all did. A very good time.
Neon Indian's Set list
3.The Blindside Kiss
6.6669 (I Don't Know If You Know)
9. Psychic Chasms
10. Polish Girl
12. Ephemeral Artery
14.Should Have Taken Acid
Drums – Jason Faries
Keyboard/Vocals/Bass – Leanne Macomber
Guitar/Bass – Joshua McWhirter
Sythesizers/Noisemaker – Ed Priesner
Keyboard/Lead Vox – Alan Palomo
Visuals by Johnny Woods