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Live Review: Local Natives, New Gods, Texture Like Sun

21 May 2013 | 3:45 pm | Samantha Armatys

Tonight prove that few can rival their ability to make an hour seem like a few minutes with a set full of raw power and emotional dexterity.

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A small but eager crowd turns out early to for opening act Texture Like Sun. The Melbourne duo doesn't deliver the brightness their name implies, but sets the tone for the evening with a moody and provocative set made up of eerie keys and vocals so deep they could penetrate the wooden floors and seep out into the streets below. There's a hint of Bon Iver, Jeff Buckley and Nick Cave present, and with such a brotherhood of influences, there's plenty of promise on the back of the release of their debut self-titled EP.

Indie super group New Gods are next up. With members from Little Red, Eagle and The Worm and Ground Components there's enough collective talent to easily furnish the 30-minute set. At times, the sheer skill of all the members released at once is almost stifling. Guitar leads clash into each other and the distinct vocals of frontman Dominic Byrne are begging for a softer cushion to spring from. But when they get it right these guys create big moments. Closing track Eyes Of Love is dedicated to favourite comedian Bill Hicks, with a tight wall of sound providing a stellar punch line.

The crowd enthusiastically welcomes Local Natives as they begin the last night of their Australian Hummingbird tour. A knitted sweater-clad crowd gather at the front of the stage, looking for a little warmth from the LA quintet. Collectively, a group of hummingbirds are called a choir, and it's clear from the opening notes of You And I that the title for the latest album is fitting; the track is a menagerie of harmonies that come together like the fluttering of so many tiny wings to create a thunderous sound.

Immediately apparent is the vocal weight of the group. Taylor Rice's haunting refrains defy restraint and grow stronger with each track, backed by the dense tones of Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn and Nik Ewing. Drumming from Matt Frazier is attentive, hypnotising and flawless. Wide Eyes and Breakers make early appearances and give a whole new meaning to the repeating “oohs” and “ahhs” so common in indie music: when these guys do it the words take on an instrumental quality rather than just providing vacuous filler between hooks. 

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There are tracks from debut Gorilla Manor to keep die-hard fans happy – the joyous Airplanes is heartwarming and delightful – and the night ends with an encore of Wooly Mammoth, Who Knows Who Cares and Sun Hands. Local Natives inhabit the same musical universe as bands like The National, Grizzly Bear and Broken Social Scene, but tonight prove that few can rival their ability to make an hour seem like a few minutes with a set full of raw power and emotional dexterity.