Local Natives Return To Stage at CMJ, Showcase New Album ‘Hummingbird’
It has been a few years since the brightly received debut album of the refreshingly percussive Local Natives. They emerged in a rather special freshmen class that included the likes of Florence + the Machine, The xx, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and Miike Snow, many of whom have by now gone on to release sophomore records — most did not live up to their impossible expectations. Local natives for their part have especially taken their time with a follow up. Last night the Los Angeles-based quintet arrived at the Lower East Side’s Bowery Ballroom to kick of their comeback via the CMJ Music Marathon.
Warming the stage, Skaters, a NYC-based outfit whose lead-singer speaks in some sort of Brit Isles accent, were admittedly a bit generic, but I imagine their album might hit the spot when you’re in one of those Okay I’ll watch The O.C. and secretly like it sort of nostalgia moods. Noteworthy: as the set progressed, the crowd transitioned from a when-are-the-Local-Natives-coming looking head bob to an I’m-actually-getting-into-this looking head bob. As did I.
Check out the single, “Schemers“
Nearing a quarter-passed Midnight, the main act took to the Bowery stage for their first NYC gig in two years. It had also been over 10 months since the group’s last proper Local Natives concert. From the floor, you could hear the hiatus, so to speak. In all fairness, multi-venue city festivals, the CMJ’s and SXSW’s of the world, are notoriously lacking in up-to-par sound quality. Short or non-existent sounds checks and house soundboard techs bear most of the blame.
The real disappointment of the night was the lackluster previews of the long-awaited new album, Hummingbird. Perhaps it was the three months in the studio with The National’s Aaron Dessner that helped shape Local Native’s evolved shoegazer sound, but we were left missing the energy brought during the 2010 summer festival circuit in support of Gorilla Manor. The new tracks seemed to drone on and it was difficult to understand the lyrics. On a brighter note, a handful of the songs new and old were colored with synth steel drum sounds that were nice and signaled the band’s willingness to break indie rock norms.
Although Local Natives couldn’t match unfair hopes and expectations, the gig was far from a complete drag, and we will certainly look forward to giving Hummingbird a second go on our stereo headphones.
All photos by Amanda Stockwell