Local Natives - Scala, London 14/02/13
At the risk of sounding like Martin Sheen at the beginning of Apocalypse Now... "Valentine's day... shit." But this isn't Saigon, this is the Scala, which isn't shit actually. In fact it's rather nice and very, very busy. In an evening which would have witnessed countless incidents of false romanticism, some fairly desperate attempts to win affection and also some downright shameless exercises in trying to gets ones end away, the Scala provided an oasis of genuine warmth and fondness. Local Natives were in town and there was hardly enough room to swing a single bollock never mind a cat.
The impetuousness of Locals Natives' Gorilla Manor days has since made way for a much more serious experience in the form of recent album release Hummingbird. The band has replaced frantic, shouty breakdowns and fervent Talking Heads covers with brooding, swirling crescendo-filled indie-epics. Hummingbirdis very much the sound of a band growing up. In the past, they may have gifted you with a lifesize model of David Hasselhoff filled with jelly beans for Valentine's Day, but nowadays they're more likely to take you on a sophisticated dinner-date. Local Natives may have matured their sound and become a more staid proposition, but they certainly haven’t forgotten how they melted our hearts in the first place.
Opening with 'You & I' allows bearded siren Kelcey Ayer to flaunt his fine vocal skills. Not only does he own a considerable set of lungs, Ayer sings with an earnest angst and triumphant emotion, it's enough to make everybody in attendance go a little bit wobbly at the knees. The band are beginning to shake off those early career comparisons to the likes of Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes and create a more cinematic sound showcased by songs such as 'Woolly Mammoth' and recent singles 'Heavy Feet' and 'Breakers'.
However, it was the old favourites which truly stirred the emotions of the packed out Scala. 'Airplanes' and 'Wide Eyes' get the crowd singing and dancing along, but it is with the beautifully crafted 'Who Knows Who Cares' that gives everyone at the Scala that lovey-dovey feeling of contentment. The band finished with a prolonged, feedback ridden version of the positively feral-pop stunner 'Sun Hands'.
Local Natives pulled off the laudable feat of shrinking the Scala to the size of shed. The evening was light on showmanship and the band are clearly not a fussy lot, they simply turned up and played a set which they knew would adhere themselves to everyone in the building including the bar staff. It's hard not to like a bunch of good looking guys with questionable facial hair who are able to bust out the most incredible, uplifting harmonies. Everyone who left the Scala on Valentine's Day did so feeling a little bit more in love. Now please excuse me whilst I go and vomit into a heart-shaped box of Thorntons.
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