4/23 Local Natives @ Antones
Riding high upon the praise of Gorilla Manor, the band was intent upon showing everyone in Austin precisely why they deserve all the hype. After a poor booking job landed Local Natives inside Emos, the show was moved to Antones, where even still, the show sold out. Luckily, we all got a chance to see one of our favorites, Suckers, open up the show. Follow the jump for the full story.
What more can we possibly say about Suckers? Their quirky pop and multiple-part harmonies have been winning us over ever since they took the stage at ACL late last year. On this night, that would be no different, as the group took to the stage shortly after 10 PM ready to win over a possibly unaware audience. Quinn Walker donned the stage wearing a blanket with a dog emblazoned on it, emphasizing the groups disregard for contemporary stereotypes, always eager to just have fun. They played several of the phenomenal hits off their self-titled EP such as “Afterthoughts & TV,” not to mention one of our favorite songs this year, “Black Sheep.” They took a second off to have the crowd sing birthday wishes to band member Pan before they closed with “It Gets Your Body Moving.” Walker’s exuberance and drummer Brian Aiken’s facial expressions always make Suckers an incredible show, and this one surely lived up to what we’ve come to expect from the band.
Local Natives obviously deserve a lot of praise. They’ve released a solid debut, Gorilla Manor, and two years in a row of impressive SXSW shows have gotten the band really far. Many Austin fans might not have had the chance to get to see them just yet, which made for a really packed evening in the awkwardly spaced Antones. It’s odd to imagine that this band got so fast so quickly; its oddly reminiscent of MGMT who blew up seemingly overnight. All the same, the band have earned their accolades.
It’s funny, but although the set was generally as energetic as usual, something seemed off about the whole experience. Maybe the crowd just didn’t feel right, but I definitely felt a little bit let down by the band’s performance. Of course, indie rock Freddy Mercury (I’ve given all the band fake names based on their dopplegangers so as to conceal their identities) is always the one to steal the show. He seems like he belongs in a some strong post-punk outfit, swinging his guitar all about him; an odd juxtaposition to the multi-part harmonies that have won the band so many adoring fans. Still, skinny Kevin Love (the bass player) just sort of hangs out, while Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (multi-instrumentalist next to skinny Kevin Love) seemed uncharacteristically out of sorts.
They played the majority of Gorilla Manor, even including their cover of Talking Heads “Warning Sign,” which went off without a hitch. But, you know what all the fans came here for: “Sun Hands” and “Airplanes.” I even heard a debate in the bathroom about which was the better single, I say “Airplanes.” Indeed, they saved those two magnificent numbers for the latter part of the set, which encouraged loud applause and sing-along moments from the crowd. At this point, it was the most spirited moment of the evening, much as it is on the record. You’ve got to love the gang vocals just before the climactic breakdown near the end of “Sun Hands.” Graciously, Local Natives walked off the stage, thanking Austin for all the love.
It can all be summed up in a simple paint by numbers fashion. Local Natives played some upbeat numbers, then some slow ones, threw in a cover, then closed with the hits. Personally, some of it felt really dialed in, apart from the performance of indie rock Freddy Mercury. Suckers, of course, was the highlight for me, as they can’t seem to do anything wrong in my book as of yet. Really though, it could have all been thrown off by the consistently rude Antones staff, including the door lady, who is my new nemesis. Your sound is always amazing Antones, but the staff could use some customer service training.
We graciously thank Mary Rehak for once again providing us with some amazing photographs. You can visit her on Flickr for more.