Smile Politely

Pre-packaged fun

I could tell something was off when I walked into the Canopy Club and someone tried to enter me in a drawing for a free smartphone. The show, featuring Neon Indian and Kreayshawn, was part of the Noisey U tour (sponsored by Dell and Vice Magazine), and if dropping twenty-five bucks on a t-shirt and posing for photos instead of actually watching a show is your thing, this was definitely where you wanted to be on Wednesday night.

I missed Elsinore’s opening set to arrive in the middle of the train wreck that is Kreayshawn. Had she trimmed fifteen minutes from her set, it could have been a good show — not great, but at least passable. Her stage energy is surprisingly good; she has a good flow and solid hypemen and the white girl rapping thing isn’t played out just yet. The problem is that exactly zero people can name a Kreayshawn song not called “Gucci Gucci”, and most of the crowd wanted to hear that song and get back to studying (consequence of free student tickets, I guess). I know you want to keep people in the room, but waiting to the end of a forty-five minute set to play your hit really kills the rest of the show. Sharing a joint with the crowd, throwing t-shirts or pulling people on-stage to dance only works when the music behind it is worth listening to.

Neon Indian played a much more abrasive set than I think anyone was anticipating, veering straight into dance-punk territory. Their mix of noisy synth and percussion is certainly enjoyable, but was hurt by sounding just a little too similar to Gang Gang Dance and LCD Soundsystem — two groups who do what Neon Indian were going for, but much better — I just kept wishing I was watching James Murphy on-stage. Alan Palomo’s songs are too poppy to survive the harsh treatment he gave them, and not malleable enough to truly benefit from it. Maybe it’s their way of dealing with sharing a bill with someone who clearly refuses to give a fuck as much as Kreayshawn does. The show I saw last night was by far more challenging than anything you’ll hear on Psychic Chasms or Era Extrana, but it ultimately left me wanting for something closer to their more melodic recorded material. While I was assured that the show improved towards the end, I wound up bailing about halfway through. My only thought walking home was how much better Elsinore probably were than these two “big” bands.

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