Phuzz Phest, Winston-Salem’s own music festival, showcased the neo-psychedelia band Neon Indian as their Friday headliner.
They lived up to their name from the moment they walked onto stage. The majority of their performance was composed of songs from their October release, “VEGA INTL. Night School.”
Thrilled individuals slowly filled the Millennium Center. Thankfully, I was able to stand right by the stage and capture everything. The crowd conversed; however, as soon as the famous “Night School” neon sign from the “VEGA INTL. Night School” album cover was lit, everyone became quiet with excitement.
The band members took their positions and immediately owned the stage, yet the most captivating performer was Alan Palomo. Not only did he sing, he also danced in such a passionate manner that the crowd could not help but be wooed by Palomo. Palomo became the embodiment of his music and did not fail to have an amazing performance. The band in general had a connection with the crowd from the beginning, which contributed to the exhilarating experience.
Neon Indian’s setlist consisted of songs from their recent album such as “Annie” and “Slumlord.” The band members alternated between drum sets and bass guitars throughout the performances in order to give each song its own unique and enticing touch.
As Neon Indian’s set came to an end, they played two more songs before stepping off stage. Everyone was devastated, but the crowd began chanting “Polish Girl,” the name of their 2011 single. The members made their way back onto the stage and played to appease the crowd, giving a breathtaking and memorable end to the performance.
On the second night of Phuzz Phest, Saturday, April 16, the critically acclaimed pop duo Chairlift headlined the festival with a performance at the Millennium Center. The band released their R&B-influenced album Moth this past January on Columbia Records, and many of the set’s songs were tracks from this record. The multi-instrumentalist duo of Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly clearly drew inspiration from their New York City roots, as their sound has evolved to include soulful vocals paired with a rich, booming pop sound for their latest work.
Their set was infused with a sense of energy and craftsmanship that could rival many larger acts in the industry. Crowd favorites included their live renditions of “Polymorphing” and “Ch-Ching” — two of the most popular tracks off of their newest album. For Phuzz Phest, the Chairlift duo was also joined on stage by additional live instrumentation, including a saxophonist, to round out their lush, full sound.
As live performers, Polachek and Wimberly captivated the audience not only with their skill and confidence as musicians, but through clever light displays and Polachek’s enchanting stage presence. As the lead of the band, Polachek exuded poise and coolness as she strutted about the stage, displaying a striking diversity in her vocal talent. She transitioned from soulful belting to ethereal hums with ease and grace.
The aural and visual aspects of the show worked together to create an experience that was at once surreal and striking — a memorable night for those lucky enough to be in the audience.
Laura Garland also contributed to this article.