The first couple times inside the Crocodile after its renovation is have been a little disorienting. Gone are the low-hanging ceilings, the tiny corner stage, and the friendly pole in the middle of the dance floor. In is a massive, high-roofed chamber that faces a stage nearly triple the size of its predecessor. Going in, there wasn’t a clear picture of what psychedelic synth-rocker Neon Indian was going to be able to accomplish. Leaving, it was clear that Alan Palomo - with full band in tow - had full command of the sold-out crowd’s attention.
Leading things off were relative newcomers Purity Ring. The Canadian duo of pianist Megan James and drummer Corin Roddick (formerly of Gobble Gobble) saw the pair ditch their respective instruments in favor of eccentric beats, stuttering synths, and Knife-esque vocal manipulation that’s made their recorded output completely riveting. Unfortunately, that currently consists of exactly three songs, so it’s a treat to see the two perform full sets.
While their future pop on its own is fantastic, their stage presence is just phenomenal. For one, Roddick’s synth construct consists of various pipes jutting out at right angles, which he then proceeds to play like drums to alter and twist the shape of the music. Meanwhile, James murmurs and wails, intermittently pounding an enormous drum like a gong. It’s an experience quite unlike many that have graced the music scene before, and completely captivating as a result. The duo tore through songs like butter, bass fluttering through the walls, annihilating cuts like “Ungirthed” and the bewitching “Belispeak” to thunderous applause. Their album is rumored to drop in 2012, and it’s the one this reviewer anticipates the most.
Let’s just get this clear: Purity Ring got the reception of a headliner, all hoots and hollers and clamor for one or two more songs. If that seems like a tall order to follow up on, well, you’d be right. But when Palomo’s Neon Indians took the stage, it was in a cloud of smoke - literally. There must’ve been three or four smoke machines pumping at full blast, which even in the revamped Crocodile is a hell of a lot of smoke. For the first four songs or so, it was difficult to even see through the haze, as the music seemed to waft, disembodied, over the crowd. Finally, the fog began to dissipate, revealing Palomo in rockstar leather dancing like a schizophrenic as he ripped energetically through songs from both his albums. While the beginning of the set (understandably) favored his latest, Era Extraña, as the set wore on he indulged himself by taking off his obviously-sweltering jacket and leading a full-crowd singalong to Psychic Chasms hits “Deadbeat Summer” and “Should Have Taken Acid With You.”
Check out the entire set of photos here.