Ed. Note: As anyone who followed our SXSW coverage would know, perhaps no band got as much critical love thrown its way as L.A.'s Local Natives. So much so that, when the Natives returned to Mango's this past Saturday, somehow Rocks Off wound up with three reviewers at the show. It might have been four, but on our own way to Mango's, we got a text-message from promoter Jagi Katial saying "No more please." First up, Brandon K. Hernsberger...
Storms, as they do, propagate. This one started in Austin a few weeks ago at SXSW, when music lovers (or waiting in line lovers at the very least) from across the state got their first live taste of Local Natives. The Los Angeles five-piece brought with them the drum-lovery of Talking Heads fused seamlessly with a dance-popperation that in a weird way reminds Aftermath of what it might feel like if Grizzly Bear turned into a hobo sucking Quaaludes mixed inside a meth-Slurpee in some kind of bizarro urban barn-house under a sky of blurry pink raindrops.
The galvanizing storm that started in Austin has finally made its way to us, and it is one that, at least judging by Saturday night's performance, has exploded through the X's of electrical tape affixed to the minds of even the most "I've heard it all before, come on and gimme something new, wouldja?" type music cynic. Call it Hurricane Like.
Similar to the joy you experience when finding two Doritos stuck together at the bottom of the bag when you could have sworn there was only one left, Local Natives playing at a venue like Mango's is something that was just not supposed to happen. It felt too great; too out of place for a band on the brink of mega-stardom to play on a stage built for forgetting rather than a stage that knows the impact of what stands above it.
In the sometimes blasé musical climate Houston finds itself, Local Natives are supposed to play somewhere cleaner than this, somewhere that drinks cost as much as a DUI, somewhere that the sound guy doesn't double as the person bringing you a water refill (not really, but almost). If you think about it, Mangos is really the only venue in Houston worth going to.
The (way, way over) sold-out and juiced-up crowd came early and stayed late, many of them telling Aftermath that they had been waiting for this show for months. It is not all that often that Houston gets a chance to see this kind of buzzy band, particularly at a venue as small and acoustically spot-on as Mangos; but when we do, shows quickly elevate to a position of an inhale, helping us realize what it means to say so this is what we've been waiting for.
Local Natives, with their infectious style of stomp-pop-fast-forward-nu-gaze-ditty-ditty, didn't let even one person forget that spring nights like this are meant for dancin', jetting through every single song on their unforgettable debut record, Gorilla Manor. Co-lead singers Taylor Rice and Kelsey Ayer went back and forth and back and forth in the manner or a high-five on the flippy-dip, interweaving the fast with the medium on songs like "Wide Eyes" and "Shape Shifter, then "Camera Talk" and "Who Knows Who Cares," and then again with "World News" and "Cubism Dream."