On Wednesday, October 19th, indie-rock outfit Local Natives performed for a near-capacity Electric Factory in a wildly energetic and exciting show, bringing to life their newest LP Sunlit Youth, released on September 9th. Following the huge success of 2013’s Hummingbird, this album fell slightly short of anticipation in terms of growth and vision, but it is definitively, distinctly Local Natives through and through. Confident in their trademark sweeping choruses and powerful percussion while trying out new synth sounds, Sunlit Youth succeeds in staying true to Local Natives’ identity while just managing to avoid crossing the line into a mainstream indie sound.
No matter one’s opinion of the record, Local Natives absolutely shined when realizing it on the stage for fans who have been with them from the beginning. Listening back to the recorded tracks gives the impression of a mediocre imitation in comparison with the life and intensity with which the group performed. The momentum began when Taylor Rice (vocals, guitar) sang the first word of lead single “Past Lives” to a swell of near-euphoria from the crowd that only grew with each successive track, especially those from the past two albums. It was clear that Local Natives fed off of this energy as they jumped around the stage nonstop and radiated passion and appreciation for the fans.
They slowed it down towards the end of the set to perform Hummingbird’s “Colombia,” a somber tribute to a deceased friend that builds to a powerful, poignant conclusion. Directly following was “Fountain of Youth,” sending an anthemic message of change and reinvention that this year’s social and political climate has called for. Before beginning, Rice brought out a new guitar emblazoned with political themes and made the case for voting, an issue that he actively promotes in interviews and on social media. “This is our world and our country, and we have a say in what happens to it,” said Rice.
The band also reflected about how far they have come since their first stop in Philadelphia. “Seven years ago we played at a bar and had to beg the owner to let us sleep on the floor for the night,” said Kelcey Ayer (vocals, multi-instrument). They have clearly been successful in the years since, seeing each album chart on Billboard 200 and performing for sellout crowds around the world.
Local Natives walked off the stage to a wild applause that lasted through the break and the entirety of the encore; for all of the energy that had been exhibited through the set, even more was released during the final two songs. The atmosphere transformed once again as the group let loose anew, Rice literally letting his hair down before diving into the crowd while performing “Sea of Years.” The night ended with “Sun Hands,” a fitting and striking end to a fantastic performance that exceeded already-high expectations.
Before their set, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson performed songs from her first EP CDW, recently released on August 26th. Wilson’s sound is an interesting (in a good way) mix of soul, R&B, jazz, and a hint of pop. Her vocals could easily impress standing alone, but the addition of layering techniques and a late-set saxophone solo made her a name that will be remembered after the show.
Local Natives has completed the North American leg of their tour, and are now touring Europe before returning to the US in December. For more information, visit http://thelocalnatives.com/#tour.