Deep into the first leg of their first tour in three years, Local Natives arrived home in Los Angeles poised to give fans at the Youtube Theater a rapturous and beatific set. And that’s exactly what they did: filling the cavernous confines of the theater with their swelling harmonies, lush instrumentation, and divinely euphonious crooning. There’s a communion of sorts that takes place as part of any Local Natives show, a shared catharsis in existential melancholy and boiled-over love.
During the set at the Youtube Theater, those moments arrived relentlessly like goose-bump-inducing sucker punches. Whether it was during the buoyant bass rumblings of apocalyptic “Megaton Mile” or the revelatory “Sun Hands,” the euphoria of seeing Local Natives live emerges out of the cathedral of sound and emotion they conjure up while onstage. And nowhere are they more potent than when Taylor Rice and Kelcey Ayer offer up their stratospheric trills as voices illustrating a bleak but shared future. The prescience of their songs like “Fountain of Youth” is made all the more electrifying live.
But the band also gave fans an exquisite cherry-picking of tracks from throughout their discography and also gave the crowd a live performance of one of their new songs “Desert Snow.” They opened with the Gorilla Manor rusher “Who Knows Who Cares,” while also pulling heavily from their radiant Sour Lemon EP and Sunlit Youth. For these last two, Ryan Hahn had the not-so-enviable task of filling Sharon Van Etten’s part in her duet with Rice on “Lemon” and the same for Nina Persson’s on “Dark Days.” But Hahn — with plenty of encouragement from the crowd — killed it with both songs.
If you’re planning on catching Local Natives on this tour you absolutely need to get there early to catch bedroom-pop act Jordana. With piercingly glossy vocals Jordana Nye and her band offer jubilant, slightly-damp melodics and earnest words of wisdom. And her new album Face The Wall features the very same kind of kinetic allure that Jordana’s live show possessed. Which had the sublime effect of making every song they played — whether you knew it or not — an instant favorite. Lost as you were in Jordana’s transfixing vocals, winding lyricism, and vibrantly eclectic (especially with its hooks) songs.
Words and photos by Steven Ward