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Local Natives Overwhelm, Disappoint at Tip's: Concert Review

When did Local Natives' crowd get so bro-y? Squeezing past high heels and purple polos at a sold-out Tipitina's on Wednesday night felt a lot more like Tigerland than an indie rock show. Not to be a hater. Bros need good music too. It's worth taking this opportunity to consider what, exactly, is propelling Local Natives from Pitchfork-secret levels to The-O.C.-soundtrack territory.


LN's sophomore record, Hummingbird, is pretty good. It's surprisingly delicate and unhurried relative to their debut, all sparse guitar parts and hushed vocals. Taylor Rice often sounds like he's singing to himself in his bedroom, more Fleet Foxes than Animal Collective. Just about every song is washed over with rolling floor toms, kick drums, indistinct bass lines, airy synths & long oooooohs from the backup vocals. It's all very atmospheric and well-produced and pretty. I'm a few songs in before I reflect that the songwriting itself is not particularly catchy or memorable. At all. More than the melodies or chord progressions or lyrics, it's the textures that are ultimately imparted on the listener. And those textures are largely agreeable and tasteful — and bound to sound novel and progressive to casual indie rock fans (i.e. those of us not burnt out on Yeasayer and The National). Hence the bros.


The subleties of the record are lost in front of a sold-out, rambunctious crowd. Aforementioned floor toms are loud as hell, seemingly throughout the entirety of LN's set. The bass is overdriven and confident in its clear audibility, but everyone else seems to be straining to be heard. Lower in the mix, the synths and guitars sound flimsy, leaving the insistent, repeating vocal lines to try and carry the songs, which doesn’t entirely work. I'm not going to pretend to pick apart particular songs from the set, because, to be honest, it all felt and sounded the same. The net experience was very impersonal and rushed, exacerbated by how overwhelmingly packed Tip's gets on nights like these.


Wild Nothing fared better as openers, in part because the washed-out-reverb thing is their thing. Their music is designed to overwhelm and feel slightly impersonal, yet still emotive and sunny. And they’ve got it down. The mix was on point, meaning that despite the 'verb, the guitar parts and synths were distinct and emotive. The band felt present & engaged, though one has to wonder how they feel about the tour they find themselves on.


Your correspondent is happy to report that Tipitina's saving grace on nights like these is its proximity to Ms Mae's. When the indie rock show disappoints, go get hammered and play foosball, I always say.


[Besides, indie rock is dead.]


The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the NoDef Editorial Board.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


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