Local Natives make magic

There’s nothing quite like catching an artist on the rise. Local Natives attracted immediate acclaim with its first LP Gorilla Manor a couple years ago and has been steadily building a loyal, passionate audience since. We were fortunate to put that audience into a room with the L.A. quintet for its debut ACL taping, and the result was magic.

The atmospheric synth intro of “Breakers” signaled the beginning of a journey through the group’s harmony-rich vision of Afropop-kissed indie rock. Busy percussion and polyrhythmic grooves buoyed soaring melodies in “Ceilings,” “Colombia” and “You & I” to unique effect. “Airplanes,” “Black Balloons” and the crowd favorite “Wide Eyes” tightened the rhythms and emphasized catchy, jangly guitar hooks as much as airy vocals. “Shape Shifter,” “Bowery” and the encore-closing “Sun Hands” stretched the band out dynamically showcasing songs that started gently and ended with vibrant excitement. The band paid tribute to an oft-cited influence with a rattling cover of Talking Heads’ “Warning Sign.”

The most moving moment came during the final song of the main set, when the Natives performed a special acoustic arrangement of “Who Knows Who Cares” worked up for this performance that really exploited the band’s folk underpinnings and choir-like vocal harmonies. We’re always flattered when an artist treats a taping as a special occasion (made doubly so when the band asked their touring bass player to join them permanently), and we can’t wait for this spring to show you why this performance counts as one. Stay tuned.