On the night of Friday, Feb. 26, SOhO hosted a sold out show as Santa Barbara gathered to see the highly anticipated Neon Indian return to the stage after a four-year hiatus.
Opening the night was Puro Instinct, who warmed up the crowd with shoegaze dream pop as front woman Piper Kaplan’s crooning vocals and Jem and the Holograms-esque aesthetic set the tone for a dance-filled evening.
The night truly began, however, when Neon Indian hit the stage. Kicking off the set with “Dear Scorpio Magazine” off of their recent album Vega Intl. Night School, it was clear from the crowd’s explosive reaction that the sold out show would be one for the SOhO books. One song in and already with the crowd thoroughly worked into a sweat, Alan Palomo, AKA Neon Indian, leaned into the mic and confessed that he was recuperating from the flu, slyly attributing any sultry vocals of the evening to his slow recovery before seamlessly diving into the album’s single, “Annie.” Any signs of the band’s deficiencies, however, were imperceptible as both Palomo’s music and stage presence brought a palpable energy to the venue.
Returning to S.B. following the October 2015 release of their newest album Vega Intl. Night School, Neon Indian’s second coming proved to be a huge success. Deviating from their previously spacier, electro-psychedelic material towards a flashier sound, Neon Indian’s new aesthetic is reminiscent of a kind of Blade Runner utopian 80’s dance club, which was evident within the walls of SOhO Friday night. Their set, which mostly pulled from Vega Intl. Night School, was a relentless and precise delivery of back-to-back upbeat dance tracks, punctuated with the occasional crowd favorite off previous albums like “Polish Girl,” concluding with a dreamier yet still very much danceable classic, “Deadbeat Summer.”
Making full use of the newly renovated SOhO stage, Palomo gave a performance so high energy that it was almost physically impossible for anyone in the crowd to not get down on the dance floor. It’s apparent that SOhO’s new accommodations were made for performances like Friday night’s, and with We the Beat packing the house consistently with must-see acts, it seems we are witnessing the true emergence of SOhO as it transitions from a rock and jazz club to a viable venue for bigger name electronic acts, while still retaining the intimate musical experience that makes SOhO what it is – truly giving Santa Barbara the best of both worlds.