Concert review: Neon Indian w/ Class Actress [Lee’s Palace, October 12, 2010]

Toronto – Disclaimer: I am going to quote the chat between me and Ricky just prior to this show. The purpose of this is to make fun of ourselves… and highlight the trend of band names these days:

me: You told me to see Active Child… so which is it?
Ricky: oh, haha its Child Actress.
me: This is semi-hilarious, if not for the fact that i just wrote the freaking wrong preview…
Ricky: Its like watchmen/walkmen… my mistake.
me: Man I was excited too… I want to see Active Child live.
Ricky: Well time to check out Class Actress.
me: CHILD ACTRESS; OK i give you 3 options
a. active child;   b. child actress;   c. class actress… which IS it?
Ricky: Hahaha; its Class Actress; S**t! Is there even a Child Actress band?
me: No. I just did a search… but that would have been freaking funny.

This is the time when you realize that calling the band Veckatimest, Horchata, or some other portmanteau word might not be such a bad idea. I don’t suppose that randomizing the English alphabets and coming up with something barely pronounceable will become a trend in the near future and I don’t promote it. It’s just an observation: with the number of bands out there today, using common words and ideas will lead someone (yes mostly us clueless media types) to blunders one of these days.

Prefuse 73 was also supposed to play this night. But apparently the Canadian immigration officers gave them some insurmountable problems (I am fighting so very hard against the word “refuse”). So the crowd was made to wait until 10:05pm for a show with doors at 8:30pm. Luckily for all, Class Actress and Neon Indian were let go. Perhaps because of the delay, Lee’s camera/flash rules seemed to have been relaxed. There were flash tests going on behind me like fireflies on a summer night. Toronto’s music-lovers displayed their timid side again – even while they were annoying everyone with flashes, there was still a huge void where the mosh pit should have been. Class Actress must have been a little disappointed, having pulled through the customs earlier. The music is a little like Feist’s, but replace the backdrop with a synthesizer. I think they only played one song on guitar and the rest on synth. Elizabeth Harper’s voice is true to the recordings, but the nature of the melody always made her sound melancholy. They managed to play most of their good tunes on myspace like Careful What You Say and Broken Adolescent Heart. Being the long-awaited opener, they were effective – Harper didn’t talk to the audience. But then again she didn’t need to – there were legions of bald men snapping pictures with flash…

Class Actress:

Class Actress – Someone Real by bean0 goxxxpeel

I’ve mentioned before how it’s weird that I have managed to dodge all of the Neon Indian shows at SXSW. I finally saw why they are popular – because by this time there WAS a mosh pit. Not only is Neon Indian the up-beat version of Grizzly Bear, they seem to collect similar polygonal album covers, and enjoy swapping personnel and tunes. I know they both have some Brooklyn connections, but case in point – Neon Indian has at least two remixes of Cheerleader – both of which I liked better than the original. While Grizzly Bear is strung together by well-paced but lonesome bass and piano notes, Neon Indian is made of a single vocal and double synthesizers. It ensures that the latter always has a sense of urgency attached. They often introduced their songs with a ear-drum popping discord buzz, and polished with Alan Palomo’s singing. The synthesizer beats has to be the main draw, though. Deadbeat Summer and Terminally Chill, for instance, has some very catchy opening sequences (sure it repeats, but it’s good regardless). I always felt like I’m listening to a fast-tracked version of electronic music – you don’t have to wait 80 bars for the new development to come through. That condensed satisfaction is the best part. They also played Local Joke and the title track Psychic Chasms – both of which had very grainy vocals, but did not sound as expansive this night at Lee’s. But I doubt that most people noticed as they were shaped into a flowing TO pulp by Neon Indian. Overall, aside from the border-crossing issues, both Class Actress and Neon Indian put on very solid performances.

Neon Indian:

Deadbeat Summer by Neon Indian

Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything, Reviews