Local Natives Live at The Corner Hotel
I had promised to take an American friend out to a gig in Melbourne before she flew back home. A Californian band seemed appropriate, but I was more excited about taking her to the Local Natives show at The Corner Hotel. It's the perfect venue for alternative music and perfectly encapsulates the unique urban culture that makes Melbourne such a good place to live.
The Paper Scissors opened the night with their Modest Mouse-style sounds. The impressive vocals and constant tempo changes had everyone in a happy mood early and, in my opinion, should have been given the main supporting slot.
Instead, that responsibility was given to South Australian indie kids Leader Cheetah. I was looking forward to the show, but their appeal was ruined by a lead singer who thought he was way too cool for school. Arrogance is only something that works on stage when you back it up, not when you look, act and sound like every other try-hard musician on Brunswick Street. Sorry, champ.
The room was full to the brim, however, as Local Natives emerged, kickstarting with the signature drum-heavy rhythm of World News.
I have a lot of respect for any percussionist that takes on lead vocals, but Kelcey Ayer blew me away. Not only did he juggle drums and vocals on most tracks, but he also played keys and lead guitar when required. I also want to use the term "musical instruments" in place of "musical chairs," but it doesn't work for obvious reasons. Ayer, Taylor Rice and Ryan Hahn switched between drums, mandolin, keys and guitar, while simultaneously swapping or harmonising lead vocals.
All tracks were taken from their impressive debut album, Gorilla Manor, with highlights including a cover of Talking Heads' Warning Sign, Wide Eyes, the instrumental intro of Stranger Things, and crowd favourite Airplanes. They closed the set with Sun Hands, during which the lads had everyone clapping along to the beat and fans chanting the closing verse in unison.
Local Natives are an incredibly talented band, but what makes them so likable is that they're genuinely nice guys. As they finished, Ayer admitted how excited they were to be playing their first headline show in Australia and encouraged everyone to meet them afterwards.
I'm sure they didn't travel half way around the world to market themselves to other Americans, but they've definitely gained another fan back home.
Liked: The free-spirited trio in front of us who never stopped dancing. They were obviously on something but it looked like a lot of fun.
Hated: The tool that stood directly under a down light on the side stage with his pad and pen, trying to get noticed as he took notes. Thanks for making all music writers look like fuckwits.
Drank: $4 beers! Thank god there's still a venue that you can get hammered at without sacrificing food for the next week.