A Nostalgic Multimedia Experience

December 18th, 2009

Neon Indian – Brooklyn Bowl – December 17, 2009

(Photo: Dagny Piasecki)

(Photo: Dagny Piasecki)

Alan Palomo’s Neon Indian is the latest moniker in a long line of successful dance electronica projects for the Austin, Texas, native. Formerly—or still, depending on the night—known as Vega and Ghosthustler, he’s been refining his 8-bit ways, which have exploded in a burst of pure ’80s synth nostalgia on his latest release, Psychic Chasms. What better venue to relive this bygone soundtrack than a bowling alley adorned with Coney Island freak-show banners and the requisite huge disco ball. Neon Indian excels at playing with those minimal synth sounds that instantly recall Kraftwerk or Herbie Hancock’s twitching mannequin torsos.

In the end, Palomo essentially succeeds in moving the crowd with familiar sine waves that have worked their way into the collective unconscious. Like with Daft Punk, it’s nostalgia for a sound that never really existed. It’s easily recognized as part of the old school, but it’s been reimagined from a contemporary distance. Further reworking his own sound for this live tour, Palomo recruited drummer Jason Faries, guitarist Ronald Geirhart and keyboardist Leanne Macomber to add a little bit of humanity to the metronome mechanical perfection on the album. It makes for a more compelling stage show when you can work off the energy from bandmates kicking out beats and soloing on guitar, in front of frighteningly period-accurate video manipulations of late-night B movies. (USA Up All Night anyone?) This is Neon Indian’s shtick, to recollect pop culture in the form of straightforward dance. The only thing missing was the slow, couples-only laps around a wooden dance floor on rented roller skates. —Jason Dean