You’d swear Justin Timberlake showed up without a shirt on when Local Natives took the stage at the Greek Theatre Friday night. The hometown crowd buzzed and roared throughout the entire 90-minute set, welcoming the group as though they were family and not a band about to treat us to a performance.
A few years ago I went to see White Rabbits at El Rey Theatre. It was a sold-out show, and a local band with a small buzz was opening for the headliners. That band was Local Natives.
Before the release of their debut album, Gorilla Manor, the now-LA-darlings had every reason to play their hearts out that night, and that’s just what they did. I can still remember the intensity of hearing “Sun Hands” and seeing the audience and band bounce and rattle the historic venue’s chandeliers.
Local Natives had a journey in front of them that would include international touring success, the release of one of the most anticipated sophomore records in recent history, and a headlining slot at the Greek Theatre for one of the biggest shows of their careers…all within a three-year timeframe.
From the moment they took the stage and launched into the first note of their recent single “Breakers,” Local Natives had the audience in the palm of their hand. They must have had some expectation of the large scale of the crowd, but after the first song ended, it was evident that the response went far beyond what they had imagined.
The honest and humble nature of the band really shined through in their interpersonal gestures and genuine smiles while performing. It seems that they know the over-saturated Los Angeles market well enough to understand how the combination of hard work, pure artistry, and luck have worked in their favor. They kept thanking the audience for all the support, mentioning how their residency at Spaceland, now the Satellite, was one of the reasons they were able to grow so quickly to headlining slots at places like the Greek. This appreciation comes through in the LA Music Blog interview our Angelica Corona recently did with guitarist/vocalist Taylor Rice.
Local Natives continued to make the show personal, calling out their families who were also at the show to thank them for their support and apologize for being gone for so long and constantly wrapped up in their music. A common theme throughout the night was how their new album, Hummingbird, is so personal and emotional, which really shined through in the passion and energy of their performance.
One of my favorite aspects of Local Natives’ recordings is their three- and four-part harmonies, the live translation of which was nothing short of perfect. Their voices seamlessly intertwined to sound like a singular voice the way Simon & Garfunkel or Crosby, Stills, & Nash would.
Local Natives’ dynamics rose and fell flawlessly, creating an energy throughout the night that built up and dropped like the ocean’s tide, sweeping away any excess noise or distraction. I love shows where everyone is engaged, and it was impossible not to be while Local Natives were on stage.
Taylor Rice had a brief “hippie moment” between songs when he mentioned how throughout the night he had watched the moon set behind the Greek Theatre’s surrounding trees. He said it was a “magical” thing to see. This really does speak for the evening as a whole, though. It wasn’t just another show on a tour for Local Natives; it was a homecoming that encompassed their entire career to this point. Fans and family welcomed them with a warm adoration that I’m sure the band’s members will not soon forget. It was truly a memorable night for one of LA’s best.
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