By Saturday, Middle of the Map Fest was in full swing and a majority of the festival’s attendees had their sights set on the Beaumont Club. With acts like Sleeper Agent, Friends, Fun., and Neon Indian it was hard to blame them. With Fun. coming off the radio success of “We Are Young”, and Neon Indian riding the waves of their stellar SXSW performances it wasn’t surprising that the midsize club touted the largest line of the fest.
While Fun. may have been the draw for most in attendance I was excited to see a few bands that I had heard whispers about down in Austin, the first of which being Friends. Friends is a band from Brooklyn New York that have labeled themselves “Weird Pop.” This vernacular fits the band well as their synth pop sound fits well with an awkward yet intriguing stage presence.
The band fronted by Samantha Urbani and Lesley Hann was more than ready to share their disco vibes with the eager Middle of the Map crowd. Urbani couldn’t help but bring those positioned on the guard rail a little closer to her slender physique, and it didn’t take long for them to open up to the advances. While I did enjoy Friends it was more their attitude than their music that became the draw.
It was soon after the flirtatious fun of Friends had ended that the electronic Neon Indian took the stage. This would be the second time I had seen the Daton, Texas indie electronic band and they quickly made up for any earlier disappointments. My first encounter with Alan Palomo’s wall of sound was at Kansas City’s Midland theater and my original impression of the band left much to be desired. At that point Neon Indian didn’t know how to take hold of a crowd and seemed a little thrown off by the larger expansions of the venue. At that point I had written them off as a band that was made for small bars and an intimate tone, but on Saturday, Palomo proved me wrong.
Sprinting to the the front of the stage he attacked the crowded Beaumont club with a ferocious dance party and everyone there could do nothing but take hold. You could see that the band felt at home and was ready for anything that could be thrown at them. Songs like “Polish Girl” sounded more powerful and demanding of attention. The Pitchfork favorite had found their live show and for those in attendance it was a performance that must be revisited, I know I for one am a believer. From that point on it was hard to imagine that anything could get better.
Next up was the teen girl fantasy Fun. While I can’t say that their latest album Some Nights is rattling around in my iTunes library it’s hard to deny the positive experience that is a Fun. performance. My first experience with the band had them opening for Panic at the Disco, but now with the success of their sophomore release it’s hard to imagine that they will be returning to an opening role any time soon. There is just something magnetic about front man Nate Ruess, his positivity forces you into fandom and sends a crowd into a frenzy. While he did say that he was suffering from Mono it was hard to believe, as I never saw a lack of energy from the lead singer.
In fact, the band was on fire and their fans were losing their minds so much that when the infectious “We Are Young” blared through the PA it was hard to hear the group above the chanting crowd. I have to admit that I was taken back by the experience, the flailing arms and screaming fans was definitely something to behold. If given the chance I wouldn’t pass up on seeing the band live again. There is just something about the power of positivity that gets me every time.
Fun. Set list
Walking the Dog
Why Am I
All the Pretty Girls
Some Nights Intro
We Are Young
Take Your Time
By Ryan Davis
Photos By Angela Davis