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Local Natives At The Lodge Room, Friday July 7th 2023

Local Natives
Local Natives

“Look at you, tickets went on sale this morning and here you are!” said Local Natives’ Taylor Rice to the audience of the Lodge Room last night. The popular Silverlake band effectively announced a “secret show” during a live-stream performance the same day of the release of their new album “Time Will Wait For No One” (July 7), and, as expected, the Lodge room website crashed when the tickets went on sale at 10 AM. When it finally was back on, the show sold out very fast. I miraculously got a ticket but if you didn’t get one, you may catch the band at one of their in-store appearances at local record stores (Amoeba, Fingerprints, and Salzer’s Records) while their two upcoming shows at the Ford (early August) to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their album “Hummingbird,” have been sold out for a while… Popular may be an understatement, the quintet is really loved and celebrated, but, besides a full-house performance at Amoeba in 2013 (and I only caught half of it), I had never attended a Local Natives show.

They have been around for a while since they started to get the attention of the press in 2009, during their performances at SXSW, drawing comparisons to indie bands such as Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and Vampire Weekend. “Time Will Wait For No One” is their fifth album, but the pandemic almost made a stop at their ascending career according to the heartfelt posts that the members of the band posted on social media: “When the world flipped upside down and we were completely isolated from each other, our bond as a band felt like it was coming apart. As individuals, we were dealing with anxiety, depression, becoming first-time parents, and suffering through pregnancy losses.  That time alone brought long-held tensions to the surface. Being in a band for 15 years, especially one as democratic as Local Natives with three singers and songwriters, where all five of us make decisions and collaborate creatively, is tricky, to say the least.” But with the help of producer John Congleton, they finally released “Time Will Wait For No One,” and you could read the joy on their faces when they performed the new songs.

Live, Local Natives have a big, layered sound, that immediately filled the venue with bombastic bursts of energy and swelling vocal harmonies. As it was a release party, they played quite a few new songs, as well as some of their most popular ones, “When Am I Gonna Lose You,” “Coins,” “I Saw You Close Your Eyes,” “Dark Days,” “Wide Eyes”…“This is the birth day of our album 5 and that means so much you are celebrating with us,” Taylor said with a big smile.

Thanks to a cleverly-curated set of 20 songs, the band knew how to please the fans, opening the set with the vintage folk harmonies of “Time Will Wait For No One,” a very short and low-key interlude done on a very melancholic tone, followed by the sweet melody of “Just Before the Morning.” However, whether they were old or new, each song was welcomed with the same enthusiasm coming from the crowd.

Their stage presence was truly electrifying, executed with lots of guitar moves and eruptions of energy, accompanied by plenty of encouragement from the crowd. Despite the melancholy vibe, the melodies and lush instrumentations were uplifting and made the crowd very happy in a communion of positivity. From foot-stomping numbers to dancefloors, they engaged the audience with sweeping orchestrations, and no matter how introspective their lyrics were, their relentless execution was big and rapturous. Even though Taylor Rice was the lead singer on many songs, Kelcey Ayer (on keyboards and guitar), and Ryan Hahn (on guitar) added their vocals or even took the lead on several songs, while harmonies dominated the entire night.

If the Motown-dance-inspired “Megaton Mile” made the crowd bounce and jump, many songs produced singalongs that definitively culminated during “Sun Hands.” Meanwhile the new songs like “Desert Snow” (the favorite of the daughter of one of them) and “Paper Lanterns,” sounded lost in existential melancholia. The airy “Coins,” the more experimental “I Saw You Close Your Eyes,” and the cathartic “Sun Hands” contrasted with the full tenderness of “Hourglass” and its beautiful vocal harmonies landing between Fleet Foxes and Crosby Stills and Nash.

I was far less familiar with their catalog than the large majority of the crowd, but this didn’t prevent me from enjoying the band’s joyful set, as each song brought its part of originality. From the euphoric “Airplanes,” to the celestial “Who Knows, Who Cares,” to the agitated “Wide Eyes,” there was a lot to discover or relish.  In spite of their success, the five guys have stayed very close to their fans: Taylor Rice leaped into the audience in a middle of a song for everyone’s delight, and he signed shirts and vinyl after the show. At one point, he even declared: “Is everyone coming to the Hummingbird shows? I don’t think there’re any tickets left but just come in and say I said you could come!” That’s how inviting he was!

Local Natives haven’t been local for some time, they have toured the US and Europe, and thanks to their memorable melodies and ethereal harmonies, they have conquered many audiences with a widespread appeal. However, after their sold-out show at the Greek Theater in LA in 2021, they didn’t know how they could move forward and thought that the band was on the verge of collapse. This thought is definitively behind them: last night was a return in great shape and a very optimistic turn to the future.

Setlist

Time Will Wait For No One
Just Before the Morning
When Am I Gonna Lose You
Megaton Mile
Desert Snow
Paper Lanterns
Coins
I Saw You Close Your Eyes
NYE
Sun Hands
Heavy Feet
Hourglass
Ava
Airplanes
Dark Days
Who Knows, Who Cares

Encore:
Paradise
Past Lives
Wide Eyes

 

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