You know your band has an immaculate following when people are already lining up at the venue at 5:30 p.m., an hour and a half before the doors open. All fans of the California-based indie-rock band Local Natives, all expressing insane amounts of devotion.
Fresh off the release of their latest album, Hummingbird greeted eager fans after a three-year gap between their critically acclaimed debut, Gorilla Manor, the boys returned to Chicago for their tour, where they lovingly remembered playing “Airplanes” to a microscopic audience.
Preceded by fellow Californians Superhumanoids, disgruntled audience members’ patience wore thin, one man even arguing with another about his distracting height.
It was lead singer Ryan Hahn’s birthday, which prompted the audience to launch into a group rendition of “Happy Birthday,” which the band highly appreciated.
The boys came out amid a wave of applause and launched directly into “You and I,” from their new album, bathed under red lights as their extreme energy spilled over onto their second song, “Breakers,” with its noticeably sped up intro. Taylor Rice—the one with the epic mustache—was completely taken over by the holy ghost of the music while bassist Kelcey Ayer grooved in his own way, doing what looked like the vertical version of the worm, standing complacently in his desert storm combat boots.
“Most of what we’re going to perform is from our new album,” said Ryan, perched over the microphone, seemingly anxious to get back into it. The energy poured on stage signaled the Natives’ overall joy in performing songs from the new record, though they did show some love to their previous album. Among the songs performed were “Wide Eyes,” “Airplanes,” “World News,” and Talking Heads cover “Warning Sign.”
The gem of the night occurred when the boys started into the piano-led opener of “Colombia,” probably one of the most emotional performances of the night. Under blue light, Ryan’s repeated wail, “Am I loving enough? Am I giving enough?” shushed the otherwise rowdy crowd. When the song picked up, they strummed under red light, as a sort of signal that they were getting more aggressive.
Of course, no concert is complete without the obligatory “leave for a few minutes and based on audience applause and hoots, come back and do three more songs.” Taylor and the gang came back for more, eventually closing with “Sun Hands,” which completely rocked the audience. A frenetic group in the middle jumped around, pumped fists into the air, and sang along heartily. Once the show was over, some even yelled for one last song.
In the middle “Wide Eyes,” one of the lyrics begged the question “Could it ever be on earth as it is in heaven?” One guy yelled at the top of his lungs, “YES!” 2013 will quite possibly be the year for the non-sophomore slump with Local Natives as the example. Well played, boys.