DudeBro Steve came clad in a tie-dye T-shirt, gym shorts, mismatched knee socks and sharp athletic sunglasses, and he was more excited than anyone else to see Neon Indian at the Bluebird Theater Monday night.
Steve announced his arrival by throwing high-fives and massive smiles to every passerby on his way to being front and center of the stage for the night’s opening set. Friends, a four-piece Brooklyn group without a proper debut album, played their own brand of ’80s post-disco. Steve dug it — possibly too much — and began an aggressive eye courting of Friends’ multi-instrumentalist Lesley Hann. She returned his gestures in kind, alternating between guttural growls, batting two eyes of her own and ignoring the tie-dyed energy orb.
Steve didn’t seem to mind Hann’s games.
Friends walked off the stage as any great opener should. They didn’t overshadow the headlining act, but worked the crowd into frenzy. Bodies multiplied inside Bluebird until the Monday night crowd nearly hit capacity. And as the people poured in, Steve stayed down in front, screaming, beaming and charming his way to new faces. He even managed to yell, “This is our generation’s Y2K!” to a modest applause.
But then something mysterious happened. As Neon Indian walked onto the stage, Steve retreated from it, pausing only to shake hands and provide the obligatory hug expected of any instant celebrity. It was as if Steve was the second opening act for the night, and by the time Neon Indian took the spotlight the entire crowd had a warm and fuzzy feeling in its gut.
Videophones and cameras were pulled from pockets in droves as Alan Palomo and company rifled through favorites like “Fallout,” “Hex Girlfriend,” “Polish Girl” and “Deadbeat Summer.” Breathlessly transitioning from one track to the next, Palomo shared few words with the crowd other than to introduce the other band members and thank the audience for attending. But his heart for the night’s event showed through his performance as he danced around his microphone without pause.
It was a brief and well-balanced set, delivering the hits and the deep cuts in equal measure. When the band members exited the stage they left a single light to strobe on the faces of the crowd, and at that moment Steve’s gym shorts and sunglasses didn’t seem out of place. The crowd didn’t have a unifying theme. There were hulked-out dudes in flat brim hats, girls with no bras and angular hair cuts, brooders draped in Joy Division shirts, male models wearing muscle tees and females wearing face paint. Neon Indian, a band that rose from the once-hip genre of chillwave, seems to have made the leap that’s difficult for many groups. The band appealed to a wide audience at the Bluebird on Monday, and did so well.
So well, in fact, that its encore didn’t feel as obligatory as it should have in the post-Y2K era.
Nic Turiciano is a writer and student in Fort Collins. You can follow him on Twitter at @nic_turishawno or email him at email@example.com.