If you really think about it, the chances of any concert in a smaller club (like the Brillobox with its 150-250 capacity) featuring three bands of consequence on the same bill are undeniably slim. And while I understand “bands of consequence” is a subjective term, I feel safe in stating my opinion that the show Opus One Productions lined up for the Brillobox this coming Saturday is packed, literally packed, with talent.
Neon Indian (a.k.a. Alan Palomo – primary torchbearer for the whole chillwave movement whether he likes it or not) brings his national tour through Pittsburgh for the first time in his young career supported by the two extremely promising up and coming bands: Wild Nothing and Light Pollution, both of which have released their debut full-lengths in the past two weeks.
It’s an intriguging lineup considering Palomo is inching his way toward the indie mainstream (which included a stint as Jimmy Fallon’s lapdog for a hot minute), Wild Nothing’s debut album Gemini was recently anointed “Best New Music” status by Pitchfork a week ago and Light Pollution’s Apparitions dropped this past Tuesday supported by their fever dream of a video for their track “Drunk Kids” that’s been making the rounds on the interwebs since Monday. What I’m trying to say is this: the show has a ton of well deserved hype surrounding it, and with the potential to kill from start to finish, I doubt it will disappoint. Tracks after the jump.
Palomo and his pseudonym Neon Indian have been riding waves of adoration since Psychic Chasams made scores of top ten lists for 2009. “Deadbeat Summer” along with Washed Out’s “Feel it All Around” basically set the template for the glo-fi genre: layers of analog synthesizers and drum machines, gauzy production and vocals, and so much 80’s nostalgia you had to brush it away from your face. “Deadbeat” in particular encapsulated the summer of 2009 with its opening synth line alone; a distorted, warped organ riff that sounds like a melted Erasure tape that’s been stuck in the dash of your mom’s Volvo since 1986. His latest single “Sleep Paralysist” cleans up some of the murkier production methods, but still has the new wave/analog disco vibe stamped all over it. Everything Palomo puts to tape can bump a dance floor, so let’s hope Brillo’s new black and white checkered tile on the second floor can take the punishment.
Virginia natives Wild Nothing embrace the 80’s unabashedly as well, churning out stunningly beautiful melancholy new wave richer in atmosphere than contemporaries Pains of Being Pure at Heart but less austere than the dance heavy Cold Cave. Gemini’s heart and soul lies with “Chinatown,” a wistful but robust getaway song that is ripe with longing without being urgent, “we’re not happy till we’re running away,” lead singer Jack Tatum croons, “clouds in your eyes.” It’s more of a daydream than an actual escape, and the fleeting nature of that illusion is palpable. “Summer Holiday” is the album’s rocker, propelled by noodling guitar lines and a wordless harmonized chorus. It’s the hardest thing on Gemini, sure, but by the time the last verse arrives with only a baseline, handclaps and gorgeous “Oooh’s” in the background, you’re once again grasping at ephemeral clouds of vapor.
Last but not least, Chicago’s Light Pollution take all that hazy atmosphere of 80’s nostalgia and filter it through The Arcade Fire’s sense of theatrical statement, pushing aside the cloudy puffs of synth to charge forward with anthemic choruses and rousing percussion. Apparitions’ side one, track one “Good Feelings” does this exactly, beginning with an ambient interlude of distant keyboards and spiraling acoustics before splashing down with base drum hits and crescendos of electric guitars. The grandeur is sincere and earned rather than melodramatic, which is a refreshing change of pace from the current slew of new-new wave’s stifling insouciance. “Oh, Ivory” picks apart the mid-tempo new wave of the Cure’s Disintegration, opting again for a larger than life finale that delivers on it grand promise.
If you can’t tell already, I’m excited about this show. And while I’m convinced Wild Nothing and Light Pollution will bring the goods, a headlining Neon Indian’s walloping drum machine smashes are poised to crush the whole damn thing. Bring your dancing shoes for Saturday night, I swear you will need them.