Show Review: Local Natives ACL Taping (10/10)


Riding high on the waves of their stunning sophomore release, Hummingbird, Local Natives, from Los Angeles, took the familiar stage of the Moody Theater to a fairly enthusiastic crowd. Sandwiched between the two ACL festival weekends there was chitchat amongst those who had seen the group on the big stage last Friday, who would be seeing them the second weekend, or those who were just lucky enough to catch them at such an intimate venue. Having taken advantage of this bands’ delight in playing in Austin, I knew we were in for a real treat, as these gentlemen pack a great deal of passion and energy into their live shows, and Thursday night was no disappointment.

After the beaming band members took the stage to enormous amounts of applause and cheers, they opened with lead single, “Breakers,” from their most recent release. Its stop and go pattern of build and pull back was the perfect entrance for this band; it took the high energy of the crowd and amplified it, the crowd eating up the swells of guitar, the groups’ signature group vocalization and prominent percussion. Each member seemed as excited to be playing such a heralded venue as the next, from guitar player and one of the lead vocalists, Taylor Rice, throwing his body around the stage, to a more reserved Kelcey Ayers, who concentrated on vocals and keys.

The band pressed on, playing a total of sixteen songs— nine from Hummingbird and seven from Gorilla Manor. Highlights came on old and new songs: the group treated us to an acapella introduction to Talking Heads cover, “Warning Sign,” that had the room in awe of the three part harmonies of Rice, Ayers and Hahn. Later on came a sped up version of “You & I,” that had the room dancing along with Ayers’ raw vocals. Between songs the humble band members could not praise the city of Austin enough, explaining a special connection that makes them play here as much as their home city of LA. Also between songs the band announced that long time touring bass player, Nik Ewing had been officially added to the lineup. All in all each member seemed a little star struck in between songs, perhaps in awe of where they were at that moment. But if they were nervous at all, it didn’t show as they doled out hit after hit to overwhelming cheers. They rounded out the regular set with a special arrangement of feel good number “Who Knows Who Cares,” which they are set to release in the near future. To bring the evening to an end on a high note, the band asked the audience to stand with them, and closed with “Sun Hands,” whose musical break down at the end had the whole room in wild abandon, jamming and screaming along with the band to much delight; smiles all around.

Local Natives, though they have gained much popularity since their first studio release, Gorilla Manor, still manage to be a band in which some overlook, when in reality, they deserve the highest of praises. Not only have they put out two equally profound and enjoyable records, but also they manage to take that already infectious spirit and turn it up ten notches in a live setting. From one of the smallest stages at ACL festival in 2010 to the biggest in 2013, and everywhere in between, Local Natives always put on a spectacular live show. Even after seeing them five times in a span of four years with only two studio albums to draw from, they still manage to make each song feel like it is the first time they are playing it. If you somehow have managed to not see them live, you should change that, but the second best thing will be coming to your televisions in the near future. Don’t miss it!

Photo courtesy of Scott Newton/KLRU-TV

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