Reviews > Shows
Neon Indian in Toronto
Phoenix Concert Theatre
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Phoenix Concert Theatre, known more appropriately as the home of the worst concert acoustics in Toronto. Sure, there are occasions on which a visiting sound engineer goes above and beyond to make the most of a muddy situation. But for the most part, the downtown venue stands as a glowing citadel of overblown tweeters and indecipherable vocals. The recent visit of Alan Palomo’s Neon Indian sadly added yet another chapter to the enduring history of the perennially hampered hall.
The mix didn’t even approach passable until midway through the set, Jason Faries’ drums subjugating the efforts of his bandmates and Palomo’s lyrics hopelessly buried beneath a rumbling blanket of noise. The heavy digital discord that the group leaned on between each song was the best-heard stuff of the night simply because there were no drums to drown out the sinister clatter. Whether the sound was any better through his monitors or not, Palomo appeared dead set on throwing himself into the performance.
The 80’s-influenced tone of the material managed to pierce the neural blockade, whether in the form of a dissonant synth solo in ‘Future Sick’ or the pleasingly cheesy e-drum fills in ‘Arcade Blues’. Palomo’s well-crafted melodies were all but lost during the verses of his songs, although a handful of the choruses achieved their desired impact. The sense that a different setting would have improved the show exponentially was prevalent. Even the spellbound instrumental passages, the most consistently extraordinary facets of the show, could not captivate to their full capacity.
Palomo frequently urged the audience to dance and sing along with the music, a request that was semi-fulfilled during back-to-back takes on his two biggest singles. ‘Polish Girl’, the dancefloor banger from 2011’s Era Extraña, got the Tuesday night crowd moving with its rubric hook. ‘Deadbeat Summer’ followed and, although it was the song that introduced Neon Indian to listeners three years ago, its stylistic disparity from the rest of the crop made it stand out in perplexing fashion. With the hindrance imposed by the din-plagued locale in mind, Palomo and co got the benefit of the doubt this time around.
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