Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Nov. 13, 2009
Vega/Neon IndianWaterloo Park, Nov. 7
Doubling down on Fun Fun Fun Fest Saturday, new Austinite-via-Denton Alan Palomo tested the much buzzed about electro-grooves of both his bands against each other. Vega unveiled first, gliding through the smooth, disco-ripped rhythms of "No Reasons," from last year's debut EP, Well Known Pleasures. Behind a burst of MGMT-tinged swagger, Palomo's cheese-ball dance moves and the synth-laced retro 1980s beats of "All Too Vivid" would have pushed into ironic if the band hadn't sustained such sincerity and an infectiously smooth composure in the sound. While Palomo's newer outfit, Neon Indian, has garnered more national attention out of the gate, Vega held up as much more than a forethought. Announcing a new album for the band next year, the trio unloaded as a closer a guitar-scarred new tune that propelled Palomo's most earnest Robert Smith croon with a power that transcended the digital foundations. Playing to a bigger crowd as the sun descended later in the evening, Neon Indian relaxed Vega's more intense instincts, essentially the same trio adding Leanne Macomber's keys and underused female vocals into the mix. While the intricacies of debut Psychic Chasms are allowed to develop and expand on disc, live "Terminally Chill" unfortunately drifted toward fulfilling its titular descriptor. "Deadbeat Summer" illuminated the dusk, but when Palomo's computer shut down the beats unexpectedly, it revealed exactly how much further the band has to advance before it can fully inhabit its hype. Splitting the difference, though, both Vega and Neon Indian suggest Palomo's promise is real.