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Last Night: Neon Indian, Ishi, Fizzy Dino Pop and Yeahdef at the Granada Theater

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Neon Indian, Ishi, Fizzy Dino Pop, Yeahdef
Granada Theater
December 28, 2009

Better than: lamenting the toys you didn't get for Christmas.

For years many wondered what would be the "next big thing" to come from Dallas, a city long on talent but guilty in recent years of not having a cohesive enough community in any of its many musical strata to ever construct anything that would fall under the category of "scene."

But last night's affair at the Granada Theater, which was headlined by 2009's lo-fi electropop torchbearer Neon Indian, proved to be a triumphant evening not only for the performers, but also for a style of music that was all too primed to flourish in Dallas, Texas.

Exploring that ripe area where dance music and indie rock collide, an all-local lineup, which also included Ishi, Fizzy Dino Pop and Dallas Observer Music Awards Best DJ Yeahdef,  gave locals a glimpse of what could happen when a city rallies around a particular style.

Not that all of the acts trumpet that same style--they all simply inhabit a ripe space of music where live instrumentation and digital production intersect.

The night began with a variety of dance vibes from Yeahdef. And the early audience brought together a fair mix of crowds who may not usually be in the same room--avid indie rockers stood elbow-to-elbow with weekend ravers, serving as a reminder of how far apart these disciplines were a decade ago and how relevant a show like this really was in today's climate.

Next, Avery Williamson held down Fizzy Dino Pop's live show on his own as the band's Kyoto-based lead singer Yuria Hashimoto recently returned to Japan, her exchange stint at Denton's UNT having come to a close. Still, Williamson's production glimmered as he played his tracks with Hashimoto's vocals laid over them for fans who missed the handful of live shows that the duo performed while Hashimoto was still stateside. (The two plan to reunite to tour both stateside as well as in Japan in 2010.)

And while Neon Indian's return to a raucous hometown crowd was a fitting close to a whirlwind year, the night also proved a watershed moment for the party-inducing Ishi, who seemed primed for national attention as they masterfully worked the crowd like seasoned vets. Many in the audience, which seemed refreshingly prepared to dance heavily on a Monday night, wouldn't have known that this was the first time the band was in front of a crowd this size. True, the almost at-capacity crowd was primarily there to see the glitter of Alan Palomo and his Neon Indian stage show, but the exposure that Ishi received can't hurt this young band on the rise. Vocalists Taylor Rea and John Mudd combine perfectly as their sultry voices and high energy on stage are the perfect cherry on top of a sound that borrows as much from the swooping basslines of dubstep and drum & bass music as it does from 1980s dance with its synths and robot sounds. "Pastel Lights" served as the band's high-point as the crowd erupted into a dance craze that included one of the first attempts at crowd-surfing seen by this reviewer far too long. And the band also threw in a killer rendition of The Bangles' 1986 No. 1 hit, "Walk Like an Egyptian."

But, indeed, the crowd was there to see Neon Indian. And though Palomo pulls the strings behind the super-successful project, the stage show touts a four-piece band (with fellow locals Leanne Macomber, Jason Faries and Ronnie Gierhart) that had the Granada's capacity crowd dancing from wall to wall.

Aided by a visual show that commandeered the venue's two giant screens at either side of the stage, Neon Indian kept the vibe rockin' along, with the crowd understandably amped for hits "Should've Taken Acid with You" and the anthemic "Deadbeat Summer."

Palomo had little interaction with the crowd between songs, but instead put all of his energy into the sonic thrash that he orchestrated as the band's frontman. It was a steady building that culminated as he cut loose both vocally and physically, frantically jumping and throwing his healthy head of hair around as Neon Indian played its final song. At its close, Palomo seemed to dance in celebration, appearing as carefree as a member of the Peanuts gang--and, to his credit, to unifying a crowd like this in Dallas is truly a measure of success.

Still, the crowd wanted more, and Palomo came back with Faries and Gierhart for a quick encore performance as VEGA--his other band, which many feel deserves the same attention as the hit-making Neon Indian. Sure enough, VEGA's "No Reasons" sent the crowd into a spin, and, in the prcoess, it served as the perfect send-off for what was a high-energy evening--one likely to stand as the high-water mark for a trend that we have a feeling isnt going anywhere anytime soon.

Critics' Notebook
Personal Bias:
It's Dallas, baby! The ingredients that made for some delicious home-cookin' last night seem just about right get North Texas some more national attention. Bravo to all who played. While we harbor a secret love for all things 1980s, we'll be more outwardly indulgent as our performers revive some of that decade's more memorable trends.

Random Note: This show's audience came with glow-sticks, dancing and crowd-surfing. Your move, other cities.

By the Way: The new year could be an exciting one for each of the stage acts that played last night: Neon Indian's buzz is apparent, but with Fizzy Dino Pop's upcoming tour and eventual relocation to Japan and Ishi's ready-for-the-big-time stage show, it all hints at huge things to come in 2010.

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