Back in 2009, L.A.’s Local Natives were but a crew of unassuming hipsters, looking for their big break as they nailed harmony after harmony at modest little venues (like Isla Vista’s Biko Co-Op). Nowadays, though, it’s a different story. Having gained the support of KCRW—and conquered nearly every festival stage left of the Mississippi—these O.C.-born, Silverlake-bred music-makers can justifiably say they’ve arrived. And this week’s SOhO stopover only managed to bring that point home.
First up, though, was a pleasant surprise in the form of North Carolina’s The Love Language, who dished up an overwhelmingly great mix of Southern rock and buoyant indie pop, complete with crushing builds and the skills to recover from a potentially set-killing equipment malfunction.
Taking the stage to a packed house at a long ago sold-out gig, the Natives wasted no time busting out the big guns. First up was “Camera Talk,” the fast-paced drum-and-guitar number that hides smack dab in the center of the Natives’ breakthrough release, Gorilla Manor. Needless to say, it was less than a minute into the set that the sing-alongs began.
While the band has gained a reputation for swelling five-part harmonies (which were dished out in no small number Monday night), it was their collective instrumental skills that stood out this week. They played to a comparatively small crowd in an enclosed space, and fans got to hear—and appreciate—every delicate guitar line (“Cards and Quarters”), sharp rim click (“Airplanes”), and dramatic use of dual drummers (“Sun Hands”). In fact, Monday’s show worked to prove that the Natives are much more than a series of well-placed group vocal leaps; these five pull off one of the tighter live sets out there today.
Among the night’s many highlights, a cover of the Talking Heads’ “Warning Sign” perhaps shined brightest, thanks in large part to Matt Frazier’s almost faultless work behind the kit. Elsewhere, the big “oh-oh-oh” finish of “Who Knows Who Cares” soared to new heights, with the help of a few hundred very vocal fans. Needless to say, if these are the new sounds of music-biz success, well, we’re definitely not complaining.