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Concert review: Local Natives wow locals at South Side

Posted 7:22am on Sunday, Mar. 17, 2013

It’s appropriate that the cover song Local Natives played Saturday night at the South Side Music Hall was Talking Heads’ Warning Sign. The quintet sports a similar affection for post-punk funk and Afro-pop grooves as the legendary band. Yet, whereas the Heads pumped up their jams with a wiry, jittery East Coast intensity, this Los Angeles band melds their rhythms with sweeping, soothing SoCal harmonies that owe a debt to the Beach Boys and the Eagles.

This musical culture clash, appealingly tasteful on their two albums Gorilla Manor and Hummingbirds, really comes alive onstage as it did here in front of a sold-out crowd. Playing 15 tracks from their two albums over the course of 75 minutes, Local Natives gave their songs a propulsive kick that’s missing from the recorded versions.

The front line of Taylor Rice, Kelsey Ayer, and Ryan Hahn provided the vocal firepower for such tracks as Wide Eyes, Breakers, and an especially explosive Sun Hands that closed the set.

The one drawback was that, unlike Talking Heads who expanded upon their songs on stage, Local Natives missed the opportunity to shape their tracks in new ways. They mostly stuck to the songs as they exist on album. No one wants them to be a jam band but it would be interesting to see what they could do if they stretched out a bit. They've obviously got the chops.

Until then, we’ll take them as they are.

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