The show started rather early, with Neon Indian getting things in motion around 7pm. The crowd grew as the set went on, and as the sun sank into the horizon, things really started to get interesting. Their latest track “Sleep Paralysist” was definitely one of the highlights of the set, but all of their songs take on new life when played live. Much of this can probably be attributed to the complex nature of their songs and the fact they can’t easily be played exactly the same way every time. The live drums also bring something wonderful to the show that simply does not exist on the album, and guitarist Ronald Geirhart lays the psychedelia on thick with his shredding in songs like “Terminally Chill.” Once the sun went down the lights came on, the crowd could experience Neon Indian properly; in a haze of pretty lights and fog. Even Geirhart’s guitar turned into a awesomely lit up display, featuring what looked like the album artwork on the body and tiny LED lights on the frets. The whole package was amazing, and Alan Palomo is the frontman that every band should have. He is immensely talented, his vocals always sound pitch perfect, and he can somehow maintain a certain mystique on stage while still seeming perpetual humble. Neon Indian was not one to disappoint, and I think it is safe to say that they have solidified their place in my heart as my favorite live act.
Although Neon Indian was the highlight of the night for me, there is simply no arguing that Phoenix knows how to rock a crowd. The energetic quartet brought all their hits from the album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix to life with incredible power. Their presence on stage is commanding, and it would be impossible to resist being completely sucked into their music. They started things off with the fan favorite “Lisztomania,” and kept the hits coming with their tracks “Fences,” “1901,” and “Lasso.” The climax of “Lasso” had an overflowing Santa Barbara Bowl crowd jumping frantically with excitement. By the end of their set, everyone had seen and heard exactly what they wanted. When you go to see a band like Phoenix live, where the hype that surrounds their live act is immense, it’s hard to imagine having your expectations completely surpassed. But Phoenix did just that on Sunday night, leaving the thousands of attendees stunned. Most of the time you’d be wise to be skeptical of the hype that exists in the music world, but in the case of Phoenix’s live show, I suggest you start believing the hype.