It was a small but mostly loyal crowd at Saturday night’s headlining Neon Reverb lineup at the Junkyard. Having moved from its original stage in Beauty Bar’s back alley, the setup felt a little too large and formal, and the cordoned-off drinking and smoking section—a no-no for a Saturday night gig—divided the crowd away from the stage. Still, despite a near two-hour delay in set times, fans stuck around, and it felt something like a private backyard show on a warm spring night.
Brooklyn’s VHS or Beta got the crowd moving early in the evening after 7 p.m., though that was perhaps a little too early for their brand of sexy, electro-infused dance rock. A more intimate and dive-y venue would’ve arguably been a better fit than the outdoor art gallery vibe of the Junkyard. Still, fresh off of their acclaimed live performances at SXSW, the guys brought energy and precision to their performance. At times it might have been too precise—both old hits like “Night on Fire” and songs off of their latest release Diamonds and Death varied little from how they sounded on the album. But for an act whose sound relies heavily on electronics and in-studio production techniques, that’s definitely a compliment.
Locals Totescity followed, this time trying out a live set in place of the DJ set they'd spun earlier, and for which they are perhaps better known. Their live sound is a diamond in the rough—Totescity is still clearly working out the feel and transition to live performances, but what lies beneath holds great promise.
Then came OK Sweetheart, who moved last minute from their scheduled show at the Beat to the Junkyard. In a night full of surprises, this was definitely one of the more pleasant ones, with lead songstress Erin Austin evoking both Billie Holiday and Feist. A singer with a keyboard and backup band can be a tough sell sandwiched between a lineup of dancey indie-pop acts; still, OK Sweetheart charmed with '60s pop flavor that makes Austin’s love songs more catchy than confessional.
Vegas favorites Kid Meets Cougar followed with a set that was energetic and engaging but too long (seven or eight songs) for a show already running late and for a group that wasn’t headlining. That said, the duo easily drew the largest crowd and the loudest cheers of the night, impressing both longtime fans and first-timers with their multimedia performance. The pricey projector they just bought (thanks to Kickstarter) might be the best thing to ever happen to the band. Interactive light projections and videos from local filmmakers added both poignancy and humor to their tunes, transforming music that’s good but not especially original into something you’d be hard-pressed to forget.
And then there was YACHT. Oh, YACHT. They waited so patiently in their white tent all night, selling merch and chatting with fans. And then they only played four songs, because the venue was forced to wrap things up by midnight (which is about two hours after their scheduled set was supposed to end). By the time they took the stage close to 11:30, a lot of the crowd had peeled off to check out the Pastel Project, which was now letting people in for free. But you gotta hand it to the band for still giving their all to the performance—howling, dancing, flirting with the crowd and straight-up guitar-shredding. It felt something like a psychedelic private dance party, and the quality of their instrumentation was definitely a cut above similarly-styled acts on the bill that night. It’s just a shame we couldn’t see more.