Local Natives – Terminal 5 – October 25, 2016
It’s been close to seven years since Gorilla Manor stamped Local Natives’ name into the indie-rock stratosphere with comparisons to Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire. Earlier this fall, they returned with their third studio full-length, Sunlit Youth. And as with previous albums, the songwriting was honed by the original trio of guitarist Taylor Rice, guitarist-keyboardist Kelcey Ayer and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Hahn, but drummer Matt Frazier and bassist Nik Ewing also brought forward ideas. What formed was the cohesive record they featured at their show on Tuesday, the first of two nights at Terminal 5.
Rice, rocking a man bun, crooned on “Past Lives”—off the band’s latest—and the crowd really erupted for old fave “Wide Eyes,” the core trio’s vocals harmonizing in unison. Noting how long it had been since they’d been back in New York City, the band reminisced about their first local show at Pianos in 2009. Fans were starved for the West Coasters and Local Natives delivered, including past gem “Airplanes” as the room chanted the telling lyrics “I want you back.” Adding to the treasure trove, they dusted off “Camera Talk,” about which Rice confessed they “haven’t played in years.”
Although Nina Persson (the Cardigans) recorded “Dark Days” with the quintet, opener Charlotte Day Wilson happily filled in for her. Ayer and Rice remained alone onstage each haloed by a spotlight as they traded verses on the heartbreaking “Columbia.” With two weeks until Election Day, Rice offered hope in the midst of the chaos and encouraged attendees to vote, a perfect setup for “Fountain of Youth” and the uproarious cheers for the lyrics “I have waited so long, Mrs. President.” The evening concluded with the unraveling of Rice’s hair and a final descent into the crowd for “Sun Hands.” —Sharlene Chiu