SXSW Entry #3: Neon Indian/Bomba Estereo @ FADER Fort

Hi everybody! I'm coming to you LIVE from the "Blogger's Lounge" at the FADER Fort east of downtown. I have proof! See...
...And yes, the "Lounge" is that sad. I mean, Unless you love typing while begging for a press pass to another party. But that's a whole 'nother thing. Because yesterday's FADER Fort shows allowed me the opportunity to catch full shows from Neon Indian and Bomba Estereo.

First up was yet another victory lap from Alan Palomo's "chillwave" (ugh, how I hate that term) act which, despite some bleeding sound issues (which plagued every show at the Fort), was pretty interesting. While it was a tad disappointing not to hear any new tracks, particularly the intriguing new song "Sleep Paralysis," the Neon Indian "band" wasn't satisfied to just hash out Psychic Chasms in live-form. The keyboards and guitars were much more accentuated, and Palomo's vocals were virtually ambient; merely another instrument that could be manipulated and controlled like strings, keys, or skins. Any sign of discomfort with his rising profile or expectations were washed out by the charisma and histrionics of the performance--particularly on closer "Deadbeat Summer," which was stacked with distortion and heavy mixing, proving that it can still be a jam in any context. After it was over, one could begin to wonder about the appropriateness of bestowing the "father of glo-fi" tag on Neon Indian, but while this paternity could rightfully be questioned, a gig like this shows that it can't be outright dismissed.

About an hour (and a vaguely racist contest centered around the name "Juan") later, Bomba Estereo came on stage and almost broke my left ear. The Bogota collective certainly had the crowd shaking, but the pesky sound issues at FADER Fort slowly began to eat away at the band's initial bright start, driving some people to do their dancing at the back of the tent. Despite the, um, "intensity" of the vocals, the band was still playing in good form. Liliana's "la Mala meets Petrona Martinez" cadence juxtaposed nicely with her band's cumbia/funk-indebted sound, which sounds like what Pacha Massive and a million Brooklyn Latin bands are attempting to sound like. There was even a brief moment when I even began pondering whether to coin a new phrase for this sort of music--"cumbiastep" is what I'm thinking. Pass it on.

[NOTE: this piece WAS written in the "Blogger's Lounge," but the Lounge's internet speed was lacking. So let's keep this time mismatch between us, cool?]