Neon Indian kicks off 2016 Sunset Sessions

Sunset Sessions returns to Park Tavern at the beautiful Piedmont Park for another spring and summer full of free weekly alternative live music shows.

Local radio station, Radio 105.7, Park Tavern, and The Bowery Presents are teaming up to bring an incredible lineup of artists every Sunday for free shows . I arrive to Park Tavern and the first thing I notice are people with blankets already sitting down in the grass enjoying the view of the entrance of the restaurant. Inside there are groups of people lounging around and customers at tables enjoying their meals. Instantly, I feel this is going to be a crowded show and smile to myself.

Around 8 p.m. the first band comes out, Hank and Cupcakes, an Atlanta-based husband and wife electropop group formed in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Right off the bat I see the bright neon clothing drummer and shirtless bassist with funky hairstyles. Their performance is upbeat and it keeps my head bobbing all throughout and their. The music reminded me of The Tings Tings, especially the vocals and the drums, and use of disco and funk twisted into the electropop.

Next the local boy Daniel Scoggins, aka Cousin Dan, brings his flamboyant style onto the stage and graces us with synthpop and electro beats. He wears a sleeveless denim jacket studded on the shoulders and tight leopard leggings and wild moves on stage. While watching him I decide he definitely now holds a place in my heart.

After what feels like twenty minutes of nothing but awkward standing among some of the attendees, random crowd chatter, and plastic and glass containers meeting the floor -- Neon Indian comes out. Alan Palomo (lead singer) greets us and pops into his smooth and electric dance moves and starts with “Dear Skorpio Magazine” off their last album, Vega Intl. Night School. He smoothly moves into one of my favorite tracks off the album, “Annie,” and gets everyone dancing to the reggae influenced beats. I sway to rhythmic transitions of electro-infused funk reggae and small clusters of people form dance circles.

Throughout the show, I notice lots of head bobbing between the less exposed songs and moderate participation from the crowd (including myself). I found myself distracted by the ratio of participation. For every dancing and active attendee there was three attendees standing around looking at the one person or just watching the band. I am slightly disappointed by the crowd and keep thinking to myself, why just stand there? Look more into the music, but then again, it is a free show.

Neon Indian stops to declared a PSA about encores and stated “encores are not cool and will never be cool” and continued the night with funk-filled song, “Slumlord” before they slowly start to indicate the night coming an end. The band manages to get the crowd into full participation with the hit song, “Deadbeat Summer” from the 2010 record, Psychic Chasms. The out of nowhere, the band walks off stage, letting the suspense build and the encore chants starts up. Moments later they walked back up and hushed, begin to silence and make room for the last song of the evening “Polish Girl” from the 2011 record, Era Extrana.

Neon Indian ends the first 2016 Sunset Sessions and heads back to Vega Intl. Night School with “News From the Sun” (I saw what you did there Alan, sneaky). Once the shows finishes, the crowd quickly disperses and I was left with the very few actual fans just dancing around to background music.

Photos by Sara Vogt