Local Natives Kool Haus, Toronto ON, September 21
Published Sep 22, 2013Despite all of Local Natives' jerky rhythms and rousing arrangements, they have an obvious love for folk. It was their push-and-pull dynamic between danceable beats and earnest harmonizing that made their Kool Haus set so damned compelling.
At the outset, a balls-out "Breakers" set a brisk pace, only tethered by deliberately disruptive keys and typically cavernous first-cut sound. Keeping the momentum going, yet taking it in a different direction, "World News" — with its winding guitar, quickening thump, and all-in vocals — was dance rock filtered through Fleet Foxes.
"Wide Eyes" showed off the rhythm section — especially drummer Matt Frazier — and its lockstep timing, while toying with spacey melodies (think Yeasayer without the hippie leanings).
Throughout, the band resisted an all-out dance party, tempering writhe-ready tracks with a surfeit of multi-part harmonies that were particularly impressive and effective on "Shape Shifter" and "Mt. Washington." Incidentally, if punters were looking for a drinking game, shots for "woa, oh, ohs," would have gotten them particularly tuned.
Layups "Airplanes" and "Sun Hands" were delivered with plenty of vigour and aided by a generous (drunken?) Saturday night sing-along. The tight combo kept the proceedings efficient but largely ebullient, even when going full Fleet Foxes with an acoustic take on "Who Knows, Who Cares."
Local Natives get to benefit from the folk revival without having to resort to repurposed Americana. Even if unintentional, it's an enviable position and they're making the most of it with stadium-fit chops and a dense, multi-layered canon.