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FreeFest: Neon Indian turn up the heat

freefestChillwave favorites Neon Indian had no problems with the big stage. (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By David Malitz

A few seconds into Neon Indian's first song, a large crowd started to pour into the Dance Forest to catch the chillwave upstarts. Festival goers jostled for position; there was considerable bumping and pushing. A few feet in front of me, two guys collided, sending the majority of one guy's beer all over the other. Not pleased with losing his $8 investment, Spilled Beer Guy decided to throw the remaining ounce or two of his beverage in the stranger's face. The reaction to this was exactly what you'd expect, and for a moment it seemed a throwdown was imminent.

But chiller heads prevailed. How could they not? Fighting during a Neon Indian performance? It's like kicking a puppy; there's some automatic response in the brain telling you that this is highly inappropriate behavior.

The band's set was received enthusiastically -- at least as enthusiastically as it could be from a semi-sedated crowd in which every third person seemed to be puffing a joint -- and answered a few seemingly contradictory questions. How does chillwave, a genre born of bedrooms, translate to a massive outdoor festival? And how does one stay "Terminally Chill" in the blazing afternoon sun?

The answers today were "surprisingly well" and by defrosting just enough. Neon Indian stopped just short of being overwhelmingly loud but there was plenty of volume to give some serious boom to their usually innocuous, keyboard-driven mini-anthems.

Frontman Alan Palomo jumped back and forth between keyboards and theremin and also displayed a good deal of charisma on the mike. His songs are brutally simple, plenty melodic and even with the boosted volume contain nothing resembling sinister elements. They were made for headphone listening in bed, but today "Psychic Chasms" and "Deadbeat Summer" sounded infinitely better blasting into the open air.

By Click Track  | September 25, 2010; 5:24 PM ET
Categories:  Live blogging  | Tags:  Virgin Mobile FreeFest  
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Next: FreeFest: Thievery Corporation's masterminds hide in plain sight

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