Decibel Festival 2013: Psychotropic Showcase @ Neumos

all photos by Brittany Brassell

Thursday night’s Decibel Festival awesomeness continued at Neumos with the Psychotropic showcase, featuring Neon Indian, Teen Daze, Big Black Delta, and Seattle’s own Vox Mod. The bill was brave – all of these bands come from radically different places in the musical spectrum – but eclecticism has never kept Decibel fans down before, and that certainly wasn’t the case tonight. From the perfectly appropriate 80s psych-dance DJ set from Alan Palomo to the quiet power of Teen Daze’s post-rock whispers, the night was ripe with greatness. Two days in, Decibel Festival 2013 doesn’t seem to be slowing down one bit.

A sparse crowd on opening didn’t deter Seattle’s Scott Porter one bit. As soon as he queued up the tunes and got into a groove, people came out of the woodworks like clockwork. Vox Mod is one of the most encticing up and coming Seattle acts recently, and it’s fun to finally get to see him play his hometown’s own electronic music festival. Porter’s electronic vibes cover a lot of euphonic ground, but it all ties back to a brilliant neurosis, almost like a musical mapping of the erratic thoughts of the brain. From the bass heavy pop magic of “Quenched Consciousness” to the bright xylophonic jam of “Ecophony Infinitum”, Porter’s spacey beats kept the crowd’s growth rate pretty steady. By the end of his set, Porter had more than a couple people coming up to the stage asking where to check out more of his stuff. I’d say Vox Mod’s inaugural Decibel set was a debut well executed.

Vox Mod:

Jonathan Bates’ work as Big Black Delta is intense. His stuff with Mellowdrone is great too, but the guy goes all out for the solo stuff. On stage, there are three things you notice pretty quickly. The first is the level (and size) of the noise you are hearing – it’s massive. Bates’s electronic dance tracks are some overpowering stuff. The second is the fact that there are two drummers on stage pounding the beat into you with double the power of pretty much any other band on stage at the same time. Third is Bates, himself - he’s all over the place on stage, dancing erratically and screaming into his microphone with plenty of freakout effects. Big Black Delta is slightly organized chaos on stage, but the tunes were fantastic and the crowd loved it.

Big Black Delta:

Going in a completely different direction, Teen Daze took the stage and started in on their set with spiraling, looped guitars and a vision in stark contrast to the prior acts of the night. Jamison barely once opened his eyes for his whole set. The reactions of the crowd or the light effects or any other outside factors were nonexistent in his mind. All there was in Jamison’s mind was the music, and the heartbeat swell of Teen Daze’s ethereal world. At times as quiet as a whisper and at others a danceable, emotionally captivating monster, Jamison’s music is an incredibly powerful force live. You can’t tell whether it belongs on a record player in a warm living room or played from massive loudspeakers in an arena. But as Jamison fumbled with guitar effects and quietly led his band forward in an almost perfectly continuous hour long set, the only place it mattered was in his head. Teen Daze tonight’s offering of zen.

Teen Daze:

Alan Palomo makes some pretty intensely psychedelic music as Neon Indian. The first record saw hallucinogenic surf pop meet synth pop in one of the weirder ways that we’ve seen in recent time. For the second, Palomo glanced his vision from the perspective of heroes like T-Rex, taking his sound to glam territory no one really saw coming. And I’m sure in the future, Palomo will continue to make progressive psychedelic music that blows our minds in new, unfathomable ways. But showing off and reaching new heights weren’t on the agenda for tonight. Instead, Palomo brought along his DJ gear and threw party like none other. Mixing 80s dance, latin, psychedelic disco, and other electronic textures, Palomo’s groove was one of a kind, but the crowd was in love. Spinning records until they were pushing people out the doors, Palomo made his 2013 Decibel appearance one to be felt.

Neon Indian (DJ Set):

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