Local Natives and Middle Kids at The Commodore Ballroom, 5/15/19
Local Natives, one of the leading bands in SoCal indie rock, played the Commodore Ballroom Wednesday night. The show may not have been sold out, but it didn’t look that way inside, as the ballroom quickly flooded with a crowd of 20 and 30-somethings.
The L.A. band released their fourth album, Violet Street, in April, and Wednesday marked night one of the Spiral Choir Tour.
Opening for Local Natives was a band all the way from Sydney, Australia known as Middle Kids. A year after the release of their debut full-length, Lost Friends, the female-led group is showing an amazing potential for success in the competitive music scene. Vocalist Hannah Joy is a force behind the mic, but the audio quality Wednesday night may have caused new listeners to get lost in the noise.
Local Natives seemed to have no problems with the audio though as they opened their set with new-album single, “Café Amarillo.”
One thing that sets this band apart is their use of harmonies. The perfection heard in the combined vocals of Taylor Rice, Kelcey Ayer, and Ryan Hahn almost has them taking on the role of the boy-band of indie rock. It was truly beautiful to witness the multi-instrumentalists create these harmonies in the live setting.
There is no one true lead singer to this band as the three tended to swap instruments throughout the set. Rice held down the front and centre position at first, even making his way into the crowd during their song, “Sun Hands.” Ayer, however, took over leading duties for certain songs and seemed to hold the frontman charisma of the group.
Ryan Hahn mostly kept quiet in between songs, saving his voice for the harmonies. His moment to shine came on “Dark Days,” a song he wrote off their 2016 release, Sunlit Youth. This is where the boy-band feeling really hit, as halfway through the track he took over the vocals and showed off a remarkably impressive performance. The crowd was clearly taken aback, erupting into an applause that spread throughout the room. It very much felt for a moment as if we were at a Backstreet Boys concert, in the best possible way.
Lead single and standout from their latest, “When Am I Gonna Lose You,” came early in the set. Other new album features included “Megaton Mile,” “a happy song about the apocalypse,” in the words of Rice. “Someday Now,” “Shy,” “Garden Of Elysian,” and “Tap Dancer” were included in the set as well.
As is the case with many bands though, it’s safe to say most fans weren’t there for the new stuff.
Hits from their 2010 debut clearly received more fanfare. “Airplanes,” “Who Knows Who Cares,” and the closer of the night, “Wide Eyes” incited much excitement from the crowd.
Amidst all the music, 2013’s Hummingbird, an album that includes the band’s most emotional and frankly, their best work, was not forgotten. “Ceilings” appeared early in the set and later on fans were gifted with “You & I.” This was directly followed by a song that, according to Rice, “almost didn’t make the record.” That song was “Mt. Washington,” one that fans surely are thankful was included in the end. Some in attendance may have been let down to have arguably the album’s biggest song, “Breakers,” not a part of the set.
It was a fantastic showing from the Cali band as they kicked off their month-long North American tour. Until next time, Local Natives.