By Erin Coulehan, Contributor, DC Music Live
Los Angeles rockers, Local Natives, breathed life into 9:30 Club this past weekend with two sold-out shows featuring 100-minute sets with songs off its recently released sophomore album, Hummingbird, and old favorites from debut, Gorilla Manor.
Songs from Hummingbird not only translated well from the album, but seemed to transcend the space of the venue entirely; sometimes you just have to be there.
The set opened with “You and I,” the new album’s ponderous first track. “ In all this light/All I feel is dark/ Had the sun without its warmth/ I’m freezing/ When did our love/ When did our love grow cold?/ The closer I get, the further I have to go/ To places we don’t know,” cried mustachioed singer/guitarist Taylor Rice dressed in a black t-shirt and skinny jeans.
Oftentimes bands play loudly – too loudly – in an effort to accommodate for any number of factors, but Local Natives didn’t merely play loud, they played hard. The four-piece, which has added a fifth member for tour, played as a unit as opposed to a collection of five musicians, bringing a sense of weightlessness to the songs.
“Mt. Washington,” which is played acoustic on the album, served as a wake up call as each member dove into the song, opting to jolt rather than soothe as the lullaby-sounding track does on Hummingbird. “I don’t have to see you,” crooned Rice – but the audience wanted to see more. In fact, they couldn’t get enough of the indie rockers.
Aside from the sounds, the crowd was mesmerized while Rice, Kelcey Ayer and Ryan Hahn as they seamlessly traded responsibilities on vocals, guitars, percussion and keys, more of a display of cohesion than choreography. Not to be overlooked, drummer Matt Frazier anchored the performance and provided tribal-like beats at all the right moments, which included a haunting cover of “Warning Sign” by Talking Heads.
The band’s encore was resplendent during “Airplanes” with Ayer flexing his vocal chords and moving the crowd with the song’s earnest lyrics. The audience joined in during the chorus, chiming “I want you back, back, back,” as if each individual was at last able to accept a thought that’s seldom recognized, let alone expressed – in the presence of 1200 people, no less.
Like the songs featured on Hummingbird and its debut album, Local Natives provided the crowd with an elegant window into the natural world they’ve created as a band before flittering off to the next stop on tour.
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