Since Arcade Fire’s surge to prominence around 2004, we’ve seen many multi-instrumented bands from across the pond try and make it here, some more successfully than others. The latest in that line is SoCal collective Local Natives. After visiting these shores last autumn for the NME Radar tour, they’ve returned for a short stint on their own. Prior to coming to this show I felt that it might have been better suited at the smaller Bodega Social Club just across town, as I really didn’t think Local Natives had taken off enough yet for a venue of this size.
Indie folkers Peggy Sue were the direct support for Local Natives, a three person band hailing from Brighton. Fronted by two young females, the band sounded at times like a cross between Bob Dylan’s more upbeat numbers and Regina Spektor. That combination should be a recipe for success, but it didn’t always come across as well as it should have. Tight rhythms and heavenly voices were on show, but the songs didn’t really seem to go anywhere. Many of them felt as though they were going to but then just, didn’t. No doubt they all have great technical ability, they just need to take it up a notch to move away from the all too familiar folk that they definitely could be capable of bettering.
Local Natives looked a fairly beardy bunch when they came on, which usually means killer music (think Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes – hairy blokes). Debut album, Gorilla Manor, was released last November to glowing reviews and it’s a good job this wasn’t held in a smaller venue as come 9pm there wasn’t much breathing space inside the Rescue Rooms. On record the songs sound very constructed and rounded, but live it’s a different story. As fantastic as the record is, it just doesn’t do the band justice. They effortlessly breeze through the majority of the tracks from their debut, but something about it just sounds much grander in the live setting. Throwing in a cover of Talking Heads’ ‘Warning Sign’ alongside their own numbers, there are more melodies than you can shake a stick, maraca or even tambourine at. Vocal harmonies are at a premium, as are an assortment of various percussion instruments which all add to the mix to create something spectacular. Many in the music press have compared them to Vampire Weekend or the aforementioned Arcade Fire, but they are more than that. Local Natives can stand up on their own alongside those names without the comparisons and based on this performance, they may just be the festival band of the summer.
Peggy Sue & Local Natives played Rescue Rooms, Nottingham on 25/2/10.