Neon Indian and Asobi Seksu at the Firebird, 6/8/11: Review and Setlist
Neon Indian | Asobi Seksu | Née
Photo by Scott Hoelzer
Last night St. Louis was treated to an evening of triumphant power pop, rip-a-hole-in-the-sky shoegaze, and cybernetic neo-bounce. Kicking off a summer string of amazing shows (Cold Cave, Fucked Up, Cults, etc.) the Firebird opened its doors to New York City's Asobi Seksu and Denton, TX's Neon Indian, which was making its first St. Louis appearance. Challenging the unrelenting heatwave, kids still came out in throngs for a glimpse to see the two in action.
Kicking off the evening was St. Louis' own Née. The brainchild of Kristen Dennis, the Née project focuses on synced up synthesizers, rising-tide percussion, and powerful vocals. Featuring drumming wunderkind Mic Boshans (this time on an electric kit), Née played a set similar to last month's slot opening for Cold Cave. Characterized by Dennis' powerful siren song vocals, the duo's efforts were validated by the crowd's approval even amidst technical difficulties. Songs like "Magic Love" and "Take Me Out" recalled the triumphant gospel of Florence and the Machine with the playfulness of Matt and Kim. Although it appears that Née may need to iron some kinks out in terms of playing with a live drummer, it is refreshing to see a local band with such a "We are having fun" attitude mirrored in a new audience.
Photo by Scott Hoelzer
Asobi Seksu hit the stage after a seemingly rushed sound check, resulting in a near absence of vocals for the first few songs. Bathed in red light, the NYC four-piece ripped into a handful of songs exerting their gritty brand of dream pop by way of shoegaze. This band is fully pro. With its ability to wield evenhanded feedback, pummeling drums, and a searing pop sensibility, AS was able to create a dynamic pivot point for rise and fall perfection. Bringing to mind the likes of Lush, Spacemen 3, and Sonic Youth, the energy never wavered, always on the go with a perpetual wave of mutilation, racing like a freight train. Regardless of the crowd's enjoyment, it was obvious that many had taken the neon acid, as onlookers gawked at the side stage appearance of Neon Indian's Alan Palomo. Ending with a beautiful rendition of the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Never Understand," Asobi Seksu proved an even match for what was to come.
As the lights went out, signaling the start of Neon Indian, it was clear who the kids came out for. A notably young crowd exploded into cheers and applause as Alan Palomo hit the stage. Erupting in an instantaneous dance party at the first note of "Local Joke," the refreshingly active audience writhed with youthful abandon as Neon Indian plowed through a handful of songs. Palomo, like many his contemporaries (Toro Y Moi, Washed Out, et al) has transcended the (now) laughable "chillwave" label, giving a tangible heart to former bedroom recordings. Backed by a full-band of impressive musicians, Neon Indian's sound has rounded out with expansive sweeps of ethereal swashes married to frenetic bounces of rhythm.
Without saying a word to the audience until the beginning of the fifth song, it was a pleasure to see Palomo finally greet the appreciative crowd, asking "St. Louis, How you doin' tonight? This is our first time out here, believe it or not." Neon Indian continued onward with the interstellar sock hop as they tried out a new one from their upcoming record. Full of diamond synth patterns and trademark guitar counter melodies, one couldn't help but think of the Cosmos soundtrack, with Palomo even incorporating a live theramin (expertly executed, by the way).
"6669 (I Don't Know If You Know)" played out like a new teen anthem for the 21st century wallflower with Palomo's sweet serenade projecting through the ether with layers of vocal delay. Continuing with a string of crowd favorites, it was no surprise to see the elated audience in full-on singalong mode during the anthemic "Deadbeat Summer," with Palomo stating "You guys are fucking awesome!" Ending with the cathartic "Ephemeral Artery" the crowd raged on all the way up to the band's exit off stage.
In this day and age of expected encores, it was still a delight to see Neon Indian come back for one more bout with the audience for the shimmering haze of "Should Have Taken Acid With You." A good crowd. A great performance. A perfect start to a deadbeat summer.
Asobi Seksu Setlist
I'm Happy But You Don't Like Me
Never Understand (cover)
Neon Indian Setlist
6669 (I Don't Know If You Know)
Should Have Taken Acid With You
Thanks to Scott Hoelzer for the photos. Visit his blog hey muffdive / whatup v for music related things.