Neon Indian – Photo by Eric Gossett

Music and film fans from around the country gathered on Saturday afternoon for the second annual Tropfest NYC Short Film Festival in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Tropfest was started 21 years ago by filmmakers in Australia who wanted a platform to showcase short films, but last year was the first time Tropfest made an appearance in NYC. This year, Tropfest lined up a bill of up-and-coming and prominent indie music acts to give moviegoers an afternoon packed with synth and pop to go with their cinema.
Brooklyn-based quartet People Get Ready brought the hometown love as they kicked off the festival Saturday afternoon. Praised by NPR as one of the best bands of CMJ in 2012, PGR continue to make national headlines as they finish work on their upcoming album. Although show-goers were still filtering in as People Get Ready played their set, there were plenty of fans there to cheer them on. Anyone unfamiliar with the group will surely be a converted follower after watching them play live. The band was charismatic and exciting, churning out hit after hit of dance-ready pop music, even with the midday heat beating down on them. Expect big things from this band.
Retro synth-rock group Ghost Beach were the next band to take the stage. Ghost Beach gained massive exposure when they participated in an anti-piracy campaign in Times Square earlier this year. The energy the band brought was enough to convince some audience members to get up and dance. After lead singer Josh Ocean noticed a small roped-off VIP area, he suggested that it looked like a good place to go shake a leg. The area was quickly flooded by people jumping over the velvet ropes, which were soon removed to make room for the impromptu dance floor. Ghost Beach, if anything, knew how to get the crowd moving.
Next, Bear In Heaven brought the intensity down with their chillwave tunes. Although more subdued than the previous acts, Bear In Heaven still brought raw electronic power that flooded the park. The band gave the audience 30 minutes of psychedelic favorites from the band’s most current albums I Love You, It’s Cool and Beast Rest Forth Mouth, as well as debut performances of two new tracks.
Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo was the only non-Brooklyn native performer of the day. The likeable frontman quickly brought the energy level back up with his DJ set. Palomo is a master at manipulating sounds and using electronic beats in new and inventive ways—his DJ sets are always exciting and unpredictable. Unlike many DJs, Palomo adds a personal touch to his beats that makes each set sound new. The crowd rushed the stage as Palomo began, and continued to grow as he performed. His momentum was so contagious that fans were still fist-pumping even after the set was over.
Chairlift was the final act of the evening, bringing the music portion of the day to a close. By now, the park was packed from front to back. Chairlift have a unique dream pop sound that will take you back to the 1980s glory days of synth, or make you feel like you are in a church cathedral with Caroline Polachek’s vocals echoing in and out of heavy synth melodies. The band played songs off both their albums, but stayed with tracks mostly off their latest record, Something. Although it was cut short to make sure the festival stayed on schedule, Chairlift’s captivating performance was a perfect transition into the film screenings as the sun went down Prospect Park.
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