(Watch/hear the session HERE )
It will be hard to ever separate the show Local Natives played for KCRW on Friday night at Apogee’s Berkeley Street Studio from the unbelievably tragic events that happened earlier in the day. After a mass shooting that tore all our hearts out, Local Natives reminded us of the power of music, as Music Director Jason Bentley said, bringing 200 people together to experience beauty and the greatness humanity can produce.
The crowd was eager to welcome back the band (whose last official LA show was at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2011) – so much so that when they lost power on stage at one point, Taylor Rice told the audience it was because they were cheering so loudly they must have blown out the speakers.
They are LA’s own and we are proud of this band. Even though they recorded their new album “Hummingbird” in NYC at the studio of The National’s Aaron Dessner, it was “conceived” in LA where they spent a year writing it.
They played eight new songs for us, followed by a 3-song encore of hits from their debut “Gorilla Manor”.
It was easy to hear the difference, though all the songs clearly came from the same core musical minds. The new songs have more nuance and drama. There was a moment in the first song, “You and I”, where they just hit this sweet spot of harmonies and instruments that was utter perfection and reminded me what I fell in love with the very first time I heard them.
“Breakers” is already a huge hit at KCRW and it was fantastic live (when it swells into their chorus of ooh oohs, I just get goosebumps). I also was a big fan of “Bowery” and “Black Spot”, which started stripped down and then built up as the song went on.
As drummer Matt Frazier told Jason during the interview, the old songs were more “bombastic”, while the new ones are purposefully spare and bare at points, something that made them uncomfortable at first. Aaron acted as an older brother giving “sage advice” – and clearly his support gave them the courage to experiment and take chances.
Taylor talked about the band being extremely collaborative, “almost to a non-functioning fault”, but its clear this brotherhood of musicians is better as a whole than it’s individual parts, each of them molding the songs until they are just right. The new songs are more personal, and a bit moodier, according to the band, and it’s obvious they’ve matured as musicians.
The results are clearly a success and I can’t wait to hear the album versions after seeing them live! Tune in to hear/watch the session on Morning Becomes Eclectic on January 11.
Local Natives Live at KCRW Set List
You and I
Who Know Who Cares