There’s an expectant crowd in Dublin’s Academy 2 for Californians’ Local Natives second visit here, with the majority of the capacity crowd drifting in during a fine set by support act, Peggy Sue.
The Californian five-piece take to the stage without much fanfare, launching straight into -World News’ from their debut album, but the first real highlight comes with second track and recent single, -Camera Talk’, which sees spontaneous harmonising from the audience, while Talking Heads cover, -Warning Sign’ sounds more urgent than the album, thanks in the main to Matt Frazier’s insistent tub-thumping.
Competent musicians all, it’s when the three-part vocal harmonies rise and fall over the thumping tattoo of the drums that Local Natives really click into gear, with choral waves of sweetness washing over the audience. -Wide Eyes’, the album’s opening track, is sublime, although the bass is so heavy, it’s as if it got a dub makeover – but that just could be the venue’s notoriously low roof (which also makes it very difficult for anyone not in the first couple of rows to see anything more than the fringes of the less-than-giant Californians).
While Gorilla Manor is a wonderfully eclectic beast, it’s this very quality that stops Local Natives transforming into a truly stellar live act. With just the one album’s worth of material to choose from, they’re restricted in their set-list, with the result that the variety of styles makes it difficult for them to build any real momentum. -Shapeshifter’ is aptly named, mutating from a slow ballad through euphoric anthem and onto proggy jazz-fest in the course of five minutes. Even towards the end and what should have been a crescendo, -Airplanes’ sees a real communion between band and audience, but the Neil Young-ish -Who Knows Who Cares’ takes the temperature down a few notches, before the brilliant -Sun Hands’ brings the evening to a frenetic close. An enjoyable night, but one that stopped short of stellar: perhaps next time, they’ll play a venue that allows their star to really shine.
Photo by Fionn Kidney.