all words: Shona Fenner
all photos: Julian Vu
Arriving a few songs into Com Truise’s opening set to find a line outside the Rock and Roll Hotel and the space inside already pretty filled up, I began my very crowded night. Com Truise is the stage name of Seth Haley, an electronic musician/producer/DJ who seems to have a large number of eager fans in DC already.
His music is pretty new to me, but after hearing one song and looking around to see a dude-heavy crowd all bobbing their heads and looking overly pleased it was apparent why this guy deserves so much rapt attention and love. Besides having a jokingly clever spoonerism for a name, he is just awesome.
The synthy, steady sound takes you on an 80’s inspired journey as he creates music that sounds a little like the poor man’s Tron Legacy soundtrack. The electronic funk he makes is an eerie combination of throwback inspiration and futuristic elements which relaxes without lulling you to sleep. Com Truise has remixed Neon Indian before, so a spot on the tour makes sense as both nostalgic-sounding artists give off a similar chillwave vibe. Given the large turnout Friday night this up-beat pairing seems a match made in heaven.
Com Truise has released the newest single from his album Galactic Melt as a free download here. “Ether Drift” is a song representative of Haley’s strengths with precise and practiced synth layers and quick, appealing drum beats. You can also download his Cyanide Sisters EP here. Com Truise has been around for a decade (under a number of different pseudonyms) so it is about time we all wised up to what he is putting down.
I remember hearing Neon Indian’s 2009 album, Psychic Chasms for the first time and feeling woozy it was just so good! Naturally this strong reaction back then made it imperative that I see Neon Indian live as soon as the chance arose. My expectations were high and maybe too much for a boozy Friday night show. My experience was negatively affected by a pushy and packed crowd, but after resolving myself to roll with the punches things got better and better.
The psychedelic root of Neon Indian is anything but subtle. The best example is their encore number (and one of my favorite songs) “I Should Have Taken Acid With You”. You can pretty much guess the nature of this one as it combines trademark nostalgia with tenuous connection to reality of a trippy afternoon. Neon Indian’s dreamlike pop fed the audience’s hunger for summery soundscapes.
Palomo prefaced the hit “Deadbeat Summer” by saying that the song may not be quite appropriate given the changing season, but the combination of alcohol and psychotropic drugs could create the feeling of the summer months just as well. All of us jammed in together up close and personal in that warm room really did feel like the muggy days of August and the mellow beats of this song were spot on.
Neon Indian is the project of Texan Alan Palomo who I was shocked to learn is only one year my elder (born in 1988). He seems much more practiced and comfortable as a front man than you might assume by his age. The vocals were somewhat washed out by the full-bodied sound of the live band. I knew what the lyrics were supposed to be so this didn’t really bother me, but if you were experiencing all this for the first time straining to hear what Palomo was getting so caught up and bubbly about would have been a drag. But I doubt there were very many newcomers in attendance.
In my opinion Neon Indian begs to be danced to, but for the first half of the set it was so crowded that I could hardly see or move. The crowd was definitely into it but you really can’t get your groove on with strangers hips pressed up against you on more than one side. The eager underagers in the front may have been to blame but as the set continued troublemakers got kicked out and some couples got overwhelmed then slipped to the back.
By then we had some wiggle room and good sightlines so I got much happier. People stopped trying to rudely squeeze up to nonexistent spaces and the whole mood shifted to carefree enthrallment. Just as the show took this turn for the better Neon Indian had some technical issues that were handled with adorable grace. The problems only took a few minutes out of the hour long set but Palomo profusely apologized and then asked us if it was okay if they played us a couple more, this being a show after all. We hollered to indicate that a few wasn’t enough and settled in to treasure the last few minutes of a perfectly hazy pop perfection.
Neon Indian’s new song “Polish Girl” is a stand out on the recently released album. Take a look at the futuristic hipstery music video to hear what you missed on Friday.