Aside from a plate of undiluted ice, there could be few better lunchtime delicacies than Local Natives’ wholesome Cali-folk shtick on a day like this and with the temperature nudging thirty beyond Rough Trade East’s vitreous storefront, it’s the heat of rife anticipation which slowly arises within. For a band with a Brixton Academy date already booked in for the autumn, irrespective of it only just about being the afternoon by the time they amble onstage this is a remarkably intimate, and with it special show and, purely acoustic, the troop proffer a rare insight into a masterfully pared back aesthetic.
It’s nigh on the absolute antithesis of their barnstorming Glastonbury performance just last month, not only in terms of size and how visible the whites of eyes might therefore be but also in that whereas then, dual frontmen Taylor Rice and Kelcey Ayer were united in crestfallen grandeur, they this afternoon batter up as almost opposing forces. They’re umpired as it were by guitarist Ryan Hahn, who to all intents and purposes forms the fulcrum of their hour as he dislocates the two Silver Lake statesman onstage, his harmonies unexpectedly hauled right to the fore. And indeed regardless of who just so happens to lead whichever number, the instore acoustic scenario allows for the band’s every vocalist to lay their various talents bare. This is one that’s audaciously delivered, and more often than not its participants prove themselves to be more than capable of standing up to the test when taken to task.
Following on from a decidedly “public” soundcheck, the atmosphere begins to really simmer toward the admittedly albeit fairly well air-conditioned rear of the room. Though musically, much of the immaculate Hummingbird – first birthed in what now feels a distant winter – is given a thorough dressing down by its multitudinous daddies: from the newly berceuse-like Breakers to a dewy Ceilings at once at odds with the oppressive heat of this balmy June afternoon, the album is inspiringly decorated with life anew. Though if these acoustic takes were recomposed of empty hours out on the road, then this is quite incontrovertibly far more than your average tour bus tomfoolery and an unprecedentedly rousing Heavy Feet attests quite wondrously to this. With Ayer’s vivid lyricisms of despair and impending detachment made heartbreakingly patent by sonic circumstance, its twitchy brilliance is reconfigured a work glorious as it is gut-wrenching. That you’re stood a mere metre or two from its author as he breathtakingly soothes its downcast stanzas only intensifies its hefty impact and musically too, the hushed breakdown in this breakup recount is majestically retranslated.
And without question, it’s Ayer who triumphs in the soi-disant shootout aforementioned for it’s an exceptionally pared back You & I of his crooning that seduces further with yet an again crafty guile although elsewhere, extempore virtuosity takes hold: Wooly Mammoth, an appositely elephantine rhythmic beast on record, is afforded a sci-fi synth redux replete with rudimentary drum pad workouts in order that it sounds unprecedentedly languid, if no less loveable than its original take.
Similarly, with intensified intimacy come rather more insightful quips than those we’ve become accustomed to: frequently citing Rough Trade as their fave record store, it’s one they vocally make a point of visiting each and every time they’re in town. Nonetheless never previously have they actually played its hallowed semi-stage, and so they pleaded to be squeezed in this afternoon. (Hahn incidentally sports an All Saints tank top of course originating from the nearby Spitalfields, thus imbuing the anecdotes to ensue with a vivid kind of credence.) What they later divulge, though, is that their native Silver Lake boasts a store of the same name which, situated opposite some cherished coffee house or other, specialises in bondage garb. Which, quite coincidentally, makes the impactive reality that today should be such a comprehensively all-embracing affair (both shirking workers and so too those unemployed taking a breather from “Game of Thrones marathons” are shown candid gratitude) all the more delightful.
And regardless of employment prospects, all are rewarded with Ayer’s crowning moment: as always should be, they’ve knowingly kept the best back for last as Colombia unfurls like the flag of some fallen kingdom (one of Westeros’ seven, even) sodden with salty tears and set to gruesomely unravel in slow motion. Though whatever Patricia may have done to dear Kelcey, she can rest safe in the knowledge that she’s brought about their most heartening composition to date and moreover that in his band of bros, he’s exactly the right six shoulders to cry on. Thus in spite of an almost funereal extended coda, the hour has brimmed with celebratory sensation well worth relinquishing lunch for…