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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Last Night: Local Natives at The Rickshaw Stop

Posted By on Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 11:13 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHRIS STEVENS
  • Photo by Chris Stevens

Local Natives
@ The Rickshaw Stop
June 2, 2010
Better than:
Cavil at Rest

Local Natives might just be the most hyped band since...that last overly hyped indie band.

Thanks to a stellar performance at this year's Coachella music festival and media comparisons to Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend and Grizzly Bear, the band is experiencing some serious upward momentum.

But it may be a tad premature. While Local Natives' contemporaries have each worn the buzzworthy crown in their day, the others managed to live up to the hype, whereas the Natives have yet to fully complete their gestation period.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHRIS STEVENS
  • Photo by Chris Stevens

That said, the band's pleasant show at the Rickshaw Stop last night proved the Los Angeles-based rock quintet is a group to watch in 2010. The sold-out show boasted possible radio-friendly hit after hit from the Local Native's debut album, Gorilla Manor.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. At the start of the evening, lines wrapped around the block, awkward kids looked for extra tickets and a cluster of teens discussed their recent finals exams. Yes, nothing says Pitchfork-style buzz band more than fresh teens eagerly waiting in line before sunset.

The show opened with Brooklyn-based quartet Suckers, a perky indie band with tight percussion and three-part harmonies. "We're the Suckers and we love San Francisco!" Quinn Walker called out, which of course, was met by numerous "woo-hoos!"

click to enlarge Suckers from Brooklyn - PHOTO BY CHRIS STEVENS
  • Photo by Chris Stevens
  • Suckers from Brooklyn

Walker shook a maraca and began singing with impressively progressing octaves until he settled on a high falsetto. He twitched and shook, arms akimbo, above pounding drumbeats and the occasional prerecorded backdrop. The polyrhythmic band was the show highlight, though the headliners hadn't yet graced the stage.


click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHRIS STEVENS
  • Photo by Chris Stevens

Formerly known as Orange County pop-punk band Cavil at Rest, the Local Natives have effectively reinvented themselves as Silver Lake Afro-pop influenced indie rockers. And for the most part, it works. As they gently worked their way through a set of hits off Gorilla Manor, the group seemed more and more comfortable on the Rickshaw stage. By the time they played a cover of the Talking Heads' "Warning Sign," the band was downright energetic, shoulders shaking and heads bopping.

The singers in Local Natives, also fans of three-part harmonies, know how to stretch a note. The song "Airplanes," which includes a catchy lyric "I want you back, baaaack" (and again), elicited squeals from the captive audience.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHRIS STEVENS
  • Photo by Chris Stevens

During the encore, call-and-response vocal chants and excitable hand clapping met the thumping rhythm of the band's hit "Sun Hands".

The crowd overall was receptive and excited for the Local Natives' set, despite the occasional lulls and repetitive performance. Don't get me wrong, the band is made up of talented players likely destined for many an iPod playlist, it just seems they need a bit more spark.

Critics Notebook:

Random detail: A hyper fan stood beside me screaming every word to every song, charmingly off-key.

By the way: Local Natives have another sold-out San Francisco show tonight (this time at Bottom of the Hill). Scalpers?

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Emily Savage

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