Sunday, March 17, 2013
Concert review: Local Natives softly stir up Irish holiday at Palladium Ballroom
The California four-piece made it seem easy.
DALLAS After all of Saturday’s St. Patty’s Day festivities, including the Greenville parade and plenty of green beer and Jell-O shots, the sold-out Local Natives show at the Palladium Ballroom was just what the leprechaun ordered. The crowds didn’t bring the outside celebration inside; instead they focused on the gentle indie rock they paid to see. The California group was one of many bands stopping in Dallas-Fort Worth off the heels of a SXSW performance, giving us a longer set list and a deeper look into their record.
Another Cali band, Superhumanoids, opened the show with a dreamy, '80s-influenced set reminiscent of the Chromatics. Lead singer Sarah Chernoff’s flighty but sharp-as-a-tack vocals added weight and texture to the spacey music, helping to differentiate songs. Not too fast or clamorous, the talented trio delivered a satisfyingly slow but not sleepy performance. It was a perfect way to usher in the equally-as-gentle Local Natives.
The versatility and professionalism of LA’s Local Natives could be seen from the back of the full room. The four-piece layed down clean, precise harmonies and energized percussion that sound like they’ve been doing this for years. But the folk rockers just released their sophomore record Hummingbird in January, following their massively successful debut Gorilla Manor. The magic is in their harmony-laden melodies and galloping beats that somehow never come off as too busy or overpowering. Switching between lead vocals, Taylor Rice, Kelcey Ayer, and Ryan Hahn passionately layed down notes, showing how much the reflective lyrics mean to them. One of their biggest singles, “Wide Eyes,” encompassed this chemistry and focused the audience with sprinkling beats and a soft chorus.
Early on, Rice admitted that even though they’re not from Texas, the band always feels like they’re home when they play in the Lone Star state. Even though it is a cliché statement often used to woo crowds, their solid and seamless performance helped us believe him. Vocalist and drummer Kelcey Ayer owned both roles with grace; his connection to the songs and challenging notes were so undeniable we couldn’t peel our eyes off of him. Watercolor guitar segments and hushed keys paired nicely with sugary-sweet harmonies in tracks like “Airplanes,” another heavy hitter off of Gorilla Manor.
The evening’s peak came in the encore, during the beautifully composed “Who Knows Who Cares,” a song about not knowing or worrying about what’s next. Fans across the room shouted out the drawn-out lyrics, creating a sense of nostalgia that seemed to bring everyone together for another St. Patrick’s Day hoorah.
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