Local Natives have come a long way. Five years ago, they were selling knives to housewives by day and masquerading as rock stars at night. Fast-forward to Wednesday night: the L.A. band played a sold-out Fox Theater in Oakland. It was a big night for multiple reasons, as outlined by singer Taylor Rice:
1. Their sophomore album “Hummingbird” dropped Tuesday.
2. This was their first show in Oakland.
3. It was also their largest show yet.
Later on, Kelcey Ayer, who shares singing duties with Rice, added a fourth reason: it was his girlfriend’s birthday, so the set was in her honor. As far as performances go, this was a pretty great one to have dedicated to you.
The quartet’s constant touring has paid off. They play together as teammates as much as bandmates, taking turns with the mic and switching instruments around. Their two-singer system is refreshing and works in their favor. Ayer hits the higher notes while Rice takes care of the lower ones, their vocals seamlessly melding together. Rice and Ayer complement each other incredibly well, most likely the result of growing up and singing together (the duo has known each other since preschool).
Their sunny harmonies and pleasantly reverbed guitar come together in a distinctly laidback, Californian manner. However, that’s not to say they’re averse to melancholia. Ayer took center stage with his guitar for a poignant rendition of “Colombia,” an elegy for his late mother. At many points in the night, he ably multitasked, playing the keyboard while simultaneously providing additional percussion support on an extra drum set.
The set’s standouts included a lively “Airplanes” (sans playful yawning), the soaring “Who Knows Who Cares” and “Sun Hands,” a thumping closer that brought the night to a satisfying end.