Photograph by Howard Melnyczuk
I’ve always believed Local Natives slipped under the radar somewhat when they emerged in late 2009. Perhaps this was due to the mixed blessing of being likened to Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear; an illustrious but weighty bunch for the L.A. indie-rockers to be thrown into.
This having been said their debut record, Gorilla Manor, was well received by those “in the know” and, if anyone was in unsure, their superb performance at Hoxton Square Bar proves that they fully deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned outfits.
The set is a perfect mix of new and old, stops and starts, and relentless energy. Kicking things off with ‘Breakers‘, the brilliant first single from the forthcoming album Hummingbird, due for release on 28th January via Infectious, the band thrash their way between powerful layers of drums and glistening guitar, into warm melodic verses and back again. The comparisons with Grizzly Bear somehow become justifiable in an entirely enjoyable way.
Having been treated to this exciting new offering, there is a seamless move into the marching drums and sparkling riff of first album opener ‘Wide Eyes’, which is filled with rattling drums and throaty chanting. A genuinely anthemic atmosphere is established with the frenzied shouting in Talking Heads cover ‘Warning Sign’, and the positively singalong ending of ’Who Knows, Who Cares’.
The introduction of The National‘s Aaron Dessner to the stage, who worked along side the band on their new record’, causes unparalleled excitement. The guitarist turned producer adds an extra dimension to ‘Heavy Feet’, not to mention providing general hubbub about the very welcome similarities between the track and his own work with, of which there were many.
This impressive outing culminates in a fantastically juxtaposing encore; the touching ‘Airplanes’, a tribute to one of the bandmember’s pilot grandfather, is followed by the all-out revelry of ‘Sun Hands’, which serves to emphasise the band’s diversity and leaves the Hoxton horde positively beaming. An exceptional showcase of their song-writing and musicianship, and I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to Local Natives return in 2013.