Indie sensation Neon Indian thrills crowd in Pittsburgh

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 at 5:27 PM
Indie sensation Neon Indian thrills crowd in Pittsburgh by Roman Sabella
Photo: Roman Sabella

Aesthetic is everything these days and for Texas natives Neon Indian, that aesthetic comes in the form of neon drenched stage setups and moody smoke pouring into the crowd.

This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to see the band perform for the second time in the last year at Mr. Small’s Theatre in Millvale, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The small theatre, with a capacity of only 650, stands as a prime location for any different indie artists who commonly don’t have the fan base or the means to play in larger venues, but for myself and others, it is the perfect place to experience live music.

The dimly lit church turned bar plays perfectly into the aesthetic choices present in Neon Indian’s newest album, “VEGA Intl. Night School,” a mix of ‘80s synthpop and psychedelic dance that calls to mind such artists as Prince, Michael Jackson and Tears for Fears. This makes for an eclectic mix of what defined the era of the ‘80s, while combining influences present in the chillwave genre the band holds its roots in.

Opening for Neon Indian were several bands that, while they all implemented similar instrumentation and sound, were unique, yet cohesive, and helped move the night along without many hiccups.

The first band playing was Harriet Brown, a one-man act that implemented a series of vocal effects and guitar riffs looped to create a myriad of songs that fit into a genre he dubs “Romantic Funk.”

This unique act was followed by two passable, yet dull acts in comparison to Harriet’s. The two acts, — Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost! and Classixx — were more so DJ sets meant to get the crowd moving and prepared for the final act, which they did well, but not great.

As the night continued on, the stage slowly became less crowded as each consecutive band removed their equipment, making way for the next performance, thus opening up the stage for Neon Indian lead singer, Alan Palomo, who danced and sang through the band’s hour-plus long set.

In opposition to the idea of an encore, Alan and the band decided to take a rest, saying, “There’s a difference between an encore and a rest,” reentering the stage for one last song, a cover of “Pop Life” by Prince. The crowd cheered long after they left the stage one final time and there was a collective hope for another show in the near future.

For a complete list of concerts at Mr. Small’s Theatre, check their website,

Music from Neon Indian, Harriet Brown, Alex Frankel, and Classixx can be found on Spotify and iTunes.

Roman Sabella is a contributing writer for The Spectator.

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