Local Natives: Exceeding Expectations
Heading to the Fox Theater to hear Local Natives, my attitude was lacking. Another night, another indie band. I should have had far more enthusiasm, particularly considering that the last two shows I attended (at the Freight & Salvage, see below) were both winners. And when you’re on a streak, you have to respect the streak. But I was lukewarm about the proceedings. Even the excellent company and good grub at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café wasn’t enough for me to achieve normal preshow levels of excitement. In retrospect, I think it may have been my low expectations that allowed me to better appreciate Local Native’s limited offerings - because the offerings were limited, but I still enjoyed the show.
Local Natives has been around now for about 5 years. Their first album, ‘Gorilla Manor,’ was released in 2009 and garnered a fair amount of attention and spawned several minor hits: ‘Sun Hands’ and ‘Who Knows, Who Cares’ being the biggest and best. The complexity and confidence of the musicianship in these songs belied their youth and inexperience and kick-started an expectations game. There was a consensus that the band was destined for even brighter times. Their sophomore album, ‘Hummingbird,’ was released the day before the show and is a surprisingly mature effort that avoids much of the sophomore jinx where bands try to over-elaborate and end up with bombastic noise that they think is art. LN’s sound is often compared to Fleet Foxes, because of the over-indulgence in three-part harmonies, and Talking Heads, because of the complex structure of songs that is nevertheless accessible.
Their performance at the Fox was also a fairly mature and accomplished effort. For a young band, this is impressive. Yet, my own impression is that the band may have reached their limits. I just don’t see them drawing any bigger crowds then they did last night. But there are plenty of bands that make a career out of playing midsize theaters. One negative: the show was short, just over an hour. But the band genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves. The bottom line: exceeding expectations, even if they’re low, still makes for a fun night.