Support band Balthazar performed a great set of floppy haired sideburned soul. Their songs were loose enough to encompass near-silent and noisy passages but were tightened up by slippery guitar riffs and violin scrapes. The full group vocals created a massed choir effect and added to the general passionate noise they punched out. They played sophisticated but fun pop, full of emotion.
Arriving on stage to David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’, Local Natives growled out a set packed with big and generous heart-on-sleeve songs, full of sunshine and warmth but with the occasional melancholy undertow. Packing the stage with several guitars, keyboards, and drum sets, their set was full of energy despite sounding laid back to the point of coma on their singles. They had a big Modest Mouse-like charm. They have devoted followers, singing every word. I saw the band with a big fan of theirs and she seemed entranced throughout, which can’t have just been the Strongbow. Even a new listener like me couldn’t help but be swept up in the band's lush tunes. The melodies strong and breezy without being too light, they had a rhythmic bite and a rough edge that filled out their sound.
This was a performance that renewed my liking for guitar-based indie pop. Live, they have something indefinable that marks them out from other very similar, but boring bands. Appropriately, for a band playing on Valentine’s Day, I found that Local Natives are a band to fall in love with.