At Coachella earlier this year, New Zealand’s The Naked & Famous attracted one of the biggest late afternoon crowds of the weekend and didn’t fail to deliver a killer set.
This made their Thursday night booking at the Echoplex a bit of a head scratcher. The band could clearly headline a much bigger venue, evidenced by how quickly tickets sold out for their show that night.
Their set started around 11 p.m. and they didn’t waste any time jumping right into it. “A Stillness”, off their most recent release In Rolling Waves, was a nice slow build to what was yet to come. After “Hearts Like Ours”, things truly kicked off with “Girls Like You”, a dance-y tune that features great vocals between Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith, who by no coincidence happen to be dating. Their chemistry is felt on each song.
The crowd participated in a sing-along for “Rolling Waves” at the behest of Xayalith. The song is just one of many that features a slow build into an eventual huge breakdown. The chorus flows perfectly into a heavy guitar and keys portion that had the energy flowing.
“The Sun” had you feeling like you were in outer space, in the best way possible. The crows grew a bit restless when the band played some of their slower tracks, such as “Grow Old”. Perhaps sensing this, I believe the band cut a verse from the performance and eliminated a bit from the slow finish. They then gave the crowd what they wanted by jumping into “All of This” and “Punching in a Dream”, arguably the best two-song succession in terms of vivacity.
Everyone seemed to know all the words to “Punching in a Dream”, giving the song just that much more ooomph.
They closed their set with the heartbreaking “No Way”, the one slow song the crowd seemed to get behind. Clueless attendees wondered if they’d play “Young Blood”, as if in some universe they wouldn’t play their smash hit.
The Aucklanders (Aucklandians?) stressed that this was now a hometown show for them, having relocated to Los Angeles. They started their encore playing a song they “never play” according to Powers, “A Wolf In Geek’s Clothing”, from their first release. Having seen them four times, this was the first time I’d seen them play the song.
After “What We Want” came their angsty and fun twentysomething anthem “Young Blood” which had the crowd at its highest participation point yet. Though there were leaks in pipes from up above the crowd, that was totally ignored during the final four minutes of the night as people got down.
The Echoplex is a great place to see a show but when it is someone of this magnitude, you feel the effect of hundreds of cell phones in the air because it’s a tight spot in front of the stage. It gives hard viewing windows to try and see between the screens. They should probably make like when the Rolling Stones played the Echoplex (yes, that really happened) and put a no cell phone rule into effect. That being said, it was awesome to see such an intimate show from a band capable of headlining bigger venues in the area.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Will Tee Yang
The Naked & Famous
The Moth & Flame
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