Local Natives Bring Two Nights of Rousing Rock and Optimism To Terminal 5

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Local Natives perform at The Greek Theatre on Sept. 16, 2016 in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles outfit closed out their tour with back-to-back shows in New York.

“This is it, so give us everything you have,” Taylor Rice of Local Natives told the dense crowd crammed into Terminal 5 in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. The statement, though fitting for the end of any performance, held special significance here as last night (Oct. 26) marked the end of the North American leg of the band’s Sunlight Youth tour. 

For the past six weeks, Local Natives have hit the road in support of their third album Sunlight Youth, which arrived in early September. The setlist for each of their back-to-back New York City shows leaned heavy on new material, though also sprinkled in fan favorites from both Gorilla Manor ("Airplanes," "Who Knows Who Cares") and Hummingbird ("You & I," "Ceilings") as well as dusted off lesser-known tracks such as “Camera Talk” (off Gorilla Manor)

“Memory tells me that these times are worth working for,” Rice, Kelcey Ayer and Ryan Hahn harmonized on the song’s chorus. The statement proves true for these indie rockers, as their pair of performances -- which arguably subtracted “indie” from the equation and ran much more like a vigorous and vibrant rock show -- showcased just how far their hard work has taken them. 

Ayer told the audience that being back in New York was nostalgic for the band, as in 2009 (when their debut Gorilla Manor arrived) they performed their first ever show in the city for less than 50 people at Piano’s in the city's Lower East Side neighborhood. Meanwhile, Terminal 5 has a capacity of 3,000.

Both of the band's shows ran fairly similar to one another; Local Natives seem to have carefully calculated their every move: Rice jumped into the crowd during “Villainy” and once more during set closer “Sun Hands”; prior to "Jellyfish" he spoke of a “magic desert land” (Joshua Tree) in which they wrote the track; and he and Ayer acted as interchangeable frontmen throughout -- with the most notable swap taking place during the affecting "Columbia."

“Columbia” saw Ayer take center stage while Rice stood by his side supporting on vocals and keys. Bathed in two separate beams of white light, they started the song slowly, allowing the beautifully heart-aching lyrics to be fully felt. “Am I giving enough … Am I loving enough,” the song questioned.

The rest of the band soon returned to the stage, slowly adding more layers to the otherwise stripped-down track. By its end, the song had fully transformed. The previously unheard up-tempo urgency illustrated the current incarnation of Local Natives, a band brimming with enthusiasm. They colored the venue with their unwavering optimism and the picture they painted showed how far they have come since they first emerged more than seven years ago. Now, they appear comfortable, confident, and above all else cheerful -- a mood that surely played a role in choosing to cover David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” which featured tour opener Charlotte Day Wilson on horn, on the second night.

From beginning to end of each performance, Local Natives' energy was palpable. Their fervor was fleshed out with thick instrumental breaks that could be felt internally and a fiercely flickering light show that accompanied their most surging song “Breakers.” In all, their performances perfectly proved much of what they have been saying time and time again in relation to Sunlight Youth: Amidst so much negativity and cynicism, hope and optimism can prevail. 

Prior to diving into their recent hit and politically geared track, “Fountain of Youth,” Rice addressed the importance of voting and how it’s essential to be informed and take action. “We have a much better idea of where the world needs to go,” Rice said, speaking of today’s youth. “This is our world."