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Gig Review: Neon Indian @ The Prince Bandroom, 24th February

This is going to be a bit of a short review, because I thought this was a really poor gig. I can’t remember ever writing a solely negative gig review before and don’t think there’s much to be gained by doing so, in fact the only reason why I’m writing this at all is that I feel it would be dishonest to only review gigs that I enjoy. Neon Indian at the Prince Bandroom last night was obviously not one of those gigs.

For me the biggest problem was with the mix: the vocals were just non-existent, to the point where frontman Alan Palomo may as well have not been singing at all. This may have been solely due to where I was standing, but I know a few people who moved around because of the sound problems and maintained that the issue existed everywhere in the venue. Everything just sounded so flat, and for a band that relies on textures and nuances for their appeal, that was a very real problem. It genuinely sounded like a speaker had blown and all you could hear was the bass and the drums.

Not only was the sound flat, but the band themselves seemed flat. I know they’re (kind of) a chillwave band, but a little bit of energy on stage would have been nice. It just seemed pedestrian. I think a great skill of a band is making it seem like they don’t play three gigs every week of every year; making every set feel unique and special, and this definitely wasn’t the case last night. It didn’t help that the gap between Neon Indian’s lesser well-known songs and their bigger numbers was less a gap and more a huge chasm when it came to this performance, even if I don’t generally find this to be the case when listening to their studio music.

Usually when I don’t enjoy a gig I pass it off as being my own fault. I might be tired or angry or sick or just not in the mood for live music. But with last night I honestly don’t think that was the case. Judging by the energy and excitement in the room prior to Neon Indian’s arrival on stage the very sizable crowd was ready to lose its mind and have a fantastic Friday night party, but the band’s music actually served to lessen that mood rather than release the energy. There were more people dancing to the warmup DJ than there were to the band themselves, and even if Neon Indian aren’t exactly a dance act that’s still pretty damning.

I hate doing this, because I still count myself a fan of Neon Indian, and they seemed like lovely people from what I could make out of the banter. Maybe they just had an off-night, because their live show has been hyped like crazy by pretty much everyone. Maybe it was just me, but then every time I think that I remember how silence instead of applause greeted the end of most of their songs and realise that there has to be more to it than that. I can’t remember ever being to a gig where most songs were barely even applauded. Ultimately I left after Polish Girls, with still about a third of the scheduled set remaining. I figured that if my favourite Neon Indian song fell that flat then there wasn’t much point hanging about.

I wanted to enjoy this gig so much, but I thought it was at best mediocre and at worst outright poor. I’ll be genuinely interested to hear the opinions of others at the show, because in some ways it would be a relief if I had a completely different reading of the show to everyone else. Neon Indian are a great band, I still maintain that. I just really didn’t like this show at all.

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One Response to “Gig Review: Neon Indian @ The Prince Bandroom, 24th February”

  1. Agree with pretty much everything here. I’ve been a long term Neon Indian fan and was genuinely excited to get to see them live for the first time. The atmosphere of the crowd barely applauding after songs was something I’ve never seen for such an esteemed band but I found myself, even as a big fan, struggling to find the motivation to bother either.

    Although I mostly blame the mix as well for the mediocre performance, I can’t help but feel the band themselves were also incredibly flat.

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