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Live Review and Photos: Neon Indian, Com Truise, and Purity Ring, September 30, 2011, Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

To note that a Friday night show with Neon Indian, Com Truise, and Purity Ring was a three-hour sweaty dance party populated by an extremely young and extremely enthusiastic brand of hipster bros would be to state the obvious. Of course it was. And, as a proficient head-bobber and adequate foot-tapper, there were times when I was genuinely frightened. But the atmosphere at the Troubadour in West Hollywood was easy to get swept up in, with so much carefree fun beaming from every newly high school graduate that you couldn’t help but smile wide and enjoy a night where both the performance and the music were of high caliber.

Purity Ring, playing their first show of the tour, began the night to a surprisingly large early crowd, who pushed close to the stage and did their best to dance to rapidly fluctuating electronic beats. Still only known for their singles, Purity Ring displayed the swagger of a much more seasoned band, bringing an elaborate stage setup that included a three-paneled banner behind them that lit up, a single bass drum that was occasionally whacked by singer Megan James that lit up, a bizarre piping contraption that was linked to Corin Roddick’s mixing station that, you guessed it, also lit up. Still, aside from another singular lightbulb that James would creepily stare into and hold up to her face, the stage remained void of house lights, allowing the carefully orchestrated light show of the band to cast a spell on the audience. Both James and Roddick exuded pure confidence in their performance, using their 30 minutes to sell the unfamiliar on their beasts of singles (“Belispeak,” “Ungirthed”) while showing they have more tricks up their sleeves, as every song that Purity Ring performed fell in the realm of good to great. Purity Ring has been on a lot of people’s lists of artists to watch for a little while now and this is an act where you can undoubtably believe the hype.

Sandwiched in the middle of the bill was Com Truise (real name: Seth Haley) who saw the venue nearing capacity including a contingent of vocal supporters who began cheering as Haley first appeared to set up his station. Haley, who looks like he could double as a bouncer or college football player, let any tough-guy mystique quickly go as he burst into a giant grin at the reaction; a down-to-earth, bro-nextdoor quality that would remain for the entirety of his set.

Though Com Truise was a certain vintage, nostalgic quality to his work, which has included two releases this year (Cyanide Sisters EP and Galactic Melt), this set was probably the most traditional dance set of the night, allowing the crowd to wave their hands into the air and grind up against their loved ones (or, you know, strangers). But, what won me over was not what I saw onstage, which consisted of little more than a dude twisting some knobs and a live drummer, but the enthusiasm for which Haley expressed for the crowd, the art of performance, and life in general. Watching Com Truise, you can see someone expressing the joy the get out of entertaining people, feeding off of their reaction, and loving every moment where they get to be in the service of others. By the end of his set, when Haley yelled “I fuckin’ love L.A.!” it was easy to lift an eyebrow at the cheesy expression, but difficult to deny that he seemed to really mean it.

One of the biggest questions going into to Neon Indian’s headlining performance was what is under the sheet. Near the back of the stage, a pyramid shaped device, about 6-feet tall, stood hidden. Was it a time machine? A giant metronome? Once revealed, it was something far more logical. It was a lighting, smoke machine hybrid device with all kinds of wires and shit. Basically, it looked really cool. But, Neon Indian didn’t need to sell the tunes that Alan Palomo and his four-piece backing band brought to the sold-out room; the music has already sold itself. as the audience sang along to nearly every tune, participating in handclaps when Palomo indicated they should, and moving around like they were hopped up on the stimulants that they undoubtably were. If there was any doubt before this stage of Neon Indian’s career it can be put to rest: Neon Indian is an event show and the venues will only get bigger from here on in.

Setlist wise, Neon Indian drew from both of their albums, Psychic Chasms and Era Extraña, surprising a little with how much they relied on older material, but pleasing the crowd in the process. Still, with Era Extraña so recently released, it was strange to not see more of the new songs featured, especially with such strong tunes like “Suns Irrupt” and “Blindside Kiss” going unplayed. However, the new material that was played had no trouble on this audience, who were clearly familiar with every note that Neon Indian has recorded, often shouting out song titles as the number would unveil itself. The set had a basic formula to each song, with Palamo piecing together the song through his keyboard and mixer until they were all in place for him to abandon his instruments and turn into a maniacal frontman, constantly dancing, weaving, and posing with energetic sincerity.

And, this energy would exponentially grow as the set proceeded, with main set closer “Ephemeral Artery” finding Palamo throwing his mic stand to the ground and quickly joining it, laying on the stage to deliver one of the set’s clear standouts. Elsewhere, he was always capably backed up, occasionally seeing more than that as keyboardist Leanne Macomber would jump around and egg the crowd on. It probably wasn’t needed, but hell, it didn’t hurt. The most endearing moment, however, was for closer “I Should Have Taken Acid With You,” which saw a technical failure occur after the song was nearly half-done, at which Palamo stopped the song and announced that they were going to start the song over again. It was a pro move from an artist hell-bent on perfection (or close to it), and showed a remarkable respect for his audience, which he had acknowledged earlier for their liveliness.

In the end, Neon Indian didn’t seem like anything that you could box up in a niche genre classification. It was soaring, bold pop melodies with anthemic choruses that you could feel equally comfortable dancing to or just sitting and watching. The appeal should be large, and with the amount of single-quality tunes on Era Extraña, wider audiences seem like an inevitability.

Neon Indian setlist:

Terminally Chill
Polish Girl
Hex Girlfriend
Mind, Drips
6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know)
Psychic Chasms
Deadbeat Summer
Ephemeral Artery

Heart Decay
Should Have Taken Acid With You

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