One of the many trade-offs that comes with being a millennial is that while I’ll never know what it’s like to step onto the dance floor of a disco club in the heat of the 80s, I can carry the equivalent with me in my pocket on my phone rather than on a bulky Walkman or CD player. Now, sometimes that trade seems a bit unfair and I long for the chance to experience an entirely different era of music that I’ll just never get to fully immerse myself in, if only because I was born a decade too late.
But that was before I was entreated to my first ever Neon Indian show at the Fonda Theatre last Wednesday night. Like the nu-disco genie that he was, Alan Palomo granted me my wish and transformed Hollywood Blvd into the disco thumping odyssey it once was by playing through the entirety of his new album VEGA INTL. Night School.
Opening with the smoldering electrics of “Dear Skorpio Magazine,” Palomo put the fans as close as they ever would be to a true disco. Hitting every groovy instrumental and falsetto croon like the possessed brainchild of funk and soul he was, the 28-year-old face of Neon Indian was an electronic wizard behind his synthesizer.
From the lush chillwave of “The Glitzy Hive,” to the percussion popping groove in “Annie,” each song pulled you deeper into Palomo’s infectious whirlwind of technicolor energy. While channeling his inner Prince over the glittery synths on “C’est La Vie (say the casualties!),” Palomo dropped down to his knees and poured out the track’s emotive words in his velvet croon onto the crowd. Gushing with an excess of emotionality so that it dropped from his curls and clothes, Palomo danced nimbly between his extravagant synth melodies with an uncontrollable ecstasy. Seemingly barely able to contain himself, the dizzying waves of disco and techno rhythms of his wild instrumentals that he sent crashing against fans left them breathless and raving for more.
Palomo ended the night with a sublime throwback to one of his greatest hits, “Polish Girl.” As the ethereal luxurious of the song’s cascading synth melody started to flow, Palomo’s crystal clear trill appeared alongside it, carrying with it the rest of the crowd’s echoes. “News From the Sun” was the night’s true finale, and for all its soulful undertones, a fitting one at that. Breaking through to a delightfully R&B pop mystique, Palomo swayed in the smoky half-light and laser-lit venue as his tender murmurs floated in between twinkling synths.
It takes some pinching to remind myself I’m not in Los Angeles, in a discotek, at the height of disco’s popularity in the 80s. It’s also easy to forget that Palomo himself was born at the tail end of that era–if only because he does disco and all its sister genres so damn well. If Neon Indian’s live set was anything like the 80s, I’d trade in my slim and sleek iPhone for its gaudy equivalent any day.
Opening for Neon Indian were Palmbomen II and Charles. Palmbomen II warmed up the crowd with a delicious medley of electro beats and sounds, while Charles were quite the unique experience. Led by the vibrant frontwoman, Charlotte Linden Ercoli (aka Charles), she sounded fantastic. What made Charles’ performance even more interesting was the dude on the couch smoking cigs, drinking beers, playing drum pads and an occasional bass — it only added to the extraordinry experience that was Charles.
Words: Steven Ward