Neon Indian, an emerging indie band from the lone star state, passed through New Orleans Wednesday night upon the release of their third album, Era Extrana. The massive tour is covering most of the United States and even has a stop in Canada and England. The band played to a nicely filled room with just enough dancing space within the French quarter’s One Eyed Jacks. Originated by lead man Alan Palomo, the band has been part of the sound that has been spreading rapidly amongst the likes of Cut Copy, Hot Chip, and the Secret Machines. Neon Indian has been associated with the chillwave motif that includes vocally lead songs with pads and synthesizers easing into much of their music.
Supporting the band on this leg of their tour is slow motion producer Seth Haley, cleverly billed as Com Truise. Haley’s music produces beats and tracks at a slow tempo using synthesizers and influences that transports the dance floor to the 80s with a sleek feel. Also associated with the genre known as chillwave, a novelty in itself, Haley performed an enticing set that was enjoyable and mellow with brief points of highly danceable beats balanced with select ambient and exploratory soundscapes. A well rounded set to begin a night is always a smart approach as it eases everyone into the mood and starts to build the anticipation for the main event.
Com Truise was supported with a supplementary drummer to accompany his original tracks. The duo played well together, complimenting each other with fluidity. Although the tracks were well composed and impressive, the charisma and showmanship was not as interesting. Part of being a DJ or performer is getting the crowd to groove with you along with playing your tracks. After about almost an hour of play, Com Truise graciously ended and thanked the crowd before leaving the stage.
Unlike most electronic producers, much of the electronic influence being integrated into indie music and nu wave bands is not always done with a careful hand. There are two main ways to approach electronic effects into one’s songs and performances. The first method is to implement these effects into the songs just as you would with a traditional instrument or sound, basically replacing it with a electronic effect. The other way is to use it as an ambient or textural tool that affects the music with dissonance rather than harmony. The ability and efficiency of musicians to apply these methods is the variety that is seen through the chillwave genre. Some bands have traditional indie-like songs that ingeniously use synths as an aid while others use more of an experimental and abstract expression of electronic sounds.
Neon Indian uses both in their live performance and most current album. As an interlude between nearly every song in their set, the band had this cacophonous noise that sounded almost like a time machine was going to crash. It did not act as a segue between tracks nor an endpoint, just a self standing exhibition of sound to, in a way, cleanse the palate before the next track in their set.
However, when the songs were performed, it was precise, composed, and captivating. The band has excellent use of vocal effects and filters as it sounded almost as if it was straight out of the studio. In addition to the impressive vocals, the synth riffs and dancey bass grooves had people moving throughout the hour set. The bass used on stage looked like something out of the electronic age as well. Playing many tunes off their new LP, Neon Indian put on a show that validates their increasing popularity and explains partly why there is so much buzz following these guys.
Neon Indian is a breath of fresh air providing unmasked catchy tunes supported by genuine vocals. A balanced bill that is proficiently executed always translates to a good time and memorable performance. People were already singing the words to the new songs that debuted only less than a week prior to the show. Covering so much ground on this tour will surely keep the momentum going and have more people singing along.
Written by Danny Goodman
Photos from the magnanimous Max Rasche