Neon Indian’s Toronto Stop Confirms Chillwave Is Gone But Not Forgotten

Neon Indian helped define a certain sound of the decade.

The sound in question, jokingly remembered as “chillwave”, was characterized by the embrace of lo-fi aesthetics, drenching pop melodies in reverb and 80’s synthesizers, more or less created in the confines of an artist’s bedroom. For the early part of the 2010s, the movement saw the future by looking to the past, and Neon Indian (aka Alan Palomo) was there at the forefront.

Returning after a three-year hiatus, Neon Indian and their new album played to a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s Velvet Underground. Decked all in white, leader Palomo and his band gambled with an unexpected move, commencing as angelic chillwave-masters with a slew of new-ish tracks. As such, the reggae bump and bubbly disco of Dear Skorpio Magazine, Annie and The Glitzy Hive got the crowd moving without missing a beat.

Later, to satisfy long-time fans the band happily dove into older jams, namely three jewels from their 2009 debut Psychic Chasms. Christened by scores of audience approval, Terminally Chill played near the top of the setlist, opening the floodgates of nostalgia for attendees craving it.

Offered up at the show’s mellow midpoint, the catchy and refracted sensibilities of Mind Drips and Deadbeat Summer juxtaposed nicely against the band’s 2019 single Toyota Man – their first sung in Spanish.

Artistically surviving the decade not only intact but with a voice now more resonant and political, Palomo could have easily coasted on past victories. Instead, new ideas and new music have given Neon Indian space to look beyond the vapours of chillwave and charter new horizons.

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Myles Herod

Myles Herod

Traveller, image maker, pop-culture seeker, storyteller, a guy you want around when things go south. Tastes range from Kubrick to Krautrock, Wu-Tang to Wiseau. Currently resides in Toronto, Canada.
Myles Herod