Have you been made aware of iTunes’ ‘Record of the week’? I owe my attendance at this gig to it. Every week, usually on a Tuesday, iTunes chooses a song to be made available to download for free, usually from a new up-and-coming artist as a bit of extra publicity. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but sometimes you get lucky and find a real gem. It was when iTunes chose to release the amazing track Airplanes one week, that first introduced me to Local Natives and I’ve been hooked ever since.
When I wandered into London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, it had already been plunged into darkness as Blue Roses had just begun their support set. After a few minutes I was ready to give my full attention. Until that point I was completely unfamiliar with Blue Roses, but have since found out that Laura Groves of Yorkshire is the woman behind it all. With a fairly Bat For Lashes-esque dramatic yet folky sound, the use of acoustic guitars, violins, piano and the impressive vocals successfully held my attention.
After a fairly speedy turn-around and mounting tension in the crowd, it was finally time for Local Natives. This L.A band, comprised of Taylor Rice, Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, Andy Hamm and Matt Frazier (who turned out to be a legend of a drummer, you can’t take your eyes off of him!) released their debut album Gorilla Manor in the UK in November 2009, and it was nice to see that so many people at the gig had clearly listened to it to death ever since as they knew the words to every song!
After a slightly tentative opener of Camera Talk, the guys warmed up and embodied the fun, experimental nature of their music. If you’re new to it, it’s kind of like Vampire Weekend with it’s use of energy and tribal elements, as well as fun group vocals and hooks that are catchy as hell. However, there is a deeper emotional level, which Airplanes illustrates in particular, dealing with loss and longing for the past.
Highlights of the performance would have to be the energy of Shape Shifter, alongside their most well-known song Airplanes which would always be a crowd-pleaser and a great one-song-encore of Sun Hands that made me want to skip home. All in all it was an excellent gig, and as Taylor Rice reflected to the crowd how just a year ago they had been in the same venue supporting Montreal, and were now back as headliners, well boys, you deserve it!