localnatives970600– THE RITZ, MANCHESTER –

I missed Local Natives before. I promised myself never again. So imagine my excitement as I stand in The Ritz, proper chuffed with my splendid view of the stage. The only downside is that I am wearing a sweater. Outside, it’s sweater weather. Cold, chilly and icy. But inside, it’s far from that. The only thing cold is a beer in your hand.

No matter, no matter, for the lights have gone down, which can only mean one thing. Five figures trudge on stage and the opening notes of ‘Breakers’ ring out. As expected, the energy level is dizzying. The strength of the drums, the haunting melody and the frontman, Taylor Rice’s kooky dance moves promise a smashing night.

The band, hailing from Los Angeles, are known for their harmonic brand of indie rock coupled with soulful lyrics and punctuated with almost anthemic belts of Oh’s, Whoa’s and Ah’s. All in all, they play 16 songs. It’s a pretty even break between tracks from their debut album, Gorilla Manor and their latest offering, Hummingbird.

In my opinion, Local Natives’ dominant sound – particularly in their newest album – is derived from their primary employment of drums in the majority of their songs. Matt Frazier, the drummer does a marvellous job of providing the backbone and support, and once in awhile, being the centrepiece. This shines through in songs such as, ‘Ceilings’ and ‘Black Balloons.’

Both vocalists, Rice and Kelcey Ayer (also the keyboardist) are fantastic and near perfect – especially when they sing in falsetto. They show the softer side of Local Natives when they deliver heartfelt renditions on ‘Mt. Washington’ and ‘Colombia.’ I must say that Local Natives really struck me as a unit. It isn’t the type of band where the frontman does all the talking and singing. Throughout the night, Rice, Ayer and Ryan Hahn, the electric guitarist, would take turns to speak to the crowd. Music-wise, Ayer often took over the reigns as lead vocals and Hahn even took centrestage on ‘Shape-Shifter.’ There is palpable chemistry and friendly banter between the members.

Personal favourites of mine include ‘Heavy Feet’, ‘You and I’, ‘Who Knows Who Cares’ and ‘Wooly Mammoth’. They elicited screams of glee and high-octane sing-alongs by yours truly. On a related note, the crowd was wonderful, as Manchester crowds usually are. They especially went crazy for oldies such as ‘World News’ and ‘Airplanes’. Rice and Ayer often stopped in between songs just to stare out at the crowd in genuine disbelief and appreciation at the warm cheers they were receiving. “We promise it won’t be three years again before we return, Manchester.” said Rice.

As the night ends, I return home, still buzzing with Local Natives’ intense primal energy (and also promising myself never to wear a sweater to a gig again).

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Amanda Hoi

Amanda is in a committed, lifelong relationship with indie electronic music. Plays the cello and guitar, and plans to sing once she's mustered enough courage. She's a Malaysian who's found her home in Manchester. Currently reading law at the University of Manchester.