Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Feb 6th 2010 6:30AM by Matt Glazebrook
Not as much of a racket as Dutch techno-punk duo Aux Raus, though, tonight's main stage headliners whose relentless beats are shaking the band's downstairs dressing room to its very foundations.
It makes post-performance activities -- introspective self-criticising (Hamm: "Fourth or fifth song, I think I accidentally hit my bass on a cymbal and the G-string went out of tune. I re-tuned it, but that kind of sucked. I walked away saying, 'oh, I had a horrible show'"), testing out the frisbee-like qualities of rock-hard rider pita bread, teasing handsome, moustachioed singer-guitarist Taylor Rice about his baggy "boyfriend shirt" -- a little difficult.
Thud, Thud, Thud, Thud. "It was never really a 'band' band till about a year and a half ago. It was just a process of feeling each other out. We were learning each other's writing styles because everybody writes in the band and Good Lord that's loud! Holy s---!" We're a decibel or two away from ceiling plaster crumbling territory.
Eventually, Hamm, whose open-church policy toward music appreciation will later extend to persuading the bar person at a deserted Irish pub to flick to a TV channel he believes to be showing exclusively Sting live clips, leaves to check out what on earth is going on upstairs.
A little later, ebullient singer-percussionist Kelcey Ayer and quiet, earnest drummer Matt Frazier, follow. But the scene -- a stage full of bouncing Dutch children and one hirsute, guitar-slinging man; a second adult, shirtless and hairless, screaming into a microphone while held aloft by the remaining, floor-bound youths -- fails to make the matter clear.
It's all rather different from the Local Natives' own set, before a packed house of late-arriving, but otherwise politely- enraptured indie rock fans: tall, wholesome 20-ysomethings and a smattering of smartly-dressed middle-aged folk. Spritelier numbers like 'Camera Talk' and set closer 'Sun Hands' benefit from the raucous volume level, but it's when they strip things back -- the sepia-tinted folk rock of 'Wide Eyes', gorgeously plaintive new single 'Airplane' -- that Local Natives reach their California-dreamy meridian.
Yet, sun-bleached and ocean-sprayed though they sound, as four-fifths the product of notoriously affluent and conservative enclave Orange County, Local Natives haven't exactly had the bohemian, Laurel Canyon upbringing of West Coast mythology. "We're not really typical Californians," explains Ayers. "We all come from right-wing Republican families." Nor did they -- despite Rice's deadpan assertion -- "write most of [their] songs on surfboards."
A group move into a shared house in infamous creative ghetto Silver Lake -- the 'Gorilla Manor' of their debut album title -- was more aspirational than inevitable. "It's an artistic, music-driven community. There's a lot of like-minded people there," says Frazier. "I like how everyone's trying to avoid the word hipster," laughs Ayers. "It's really motivating to have all these people -- as cheesy as it sounds -- trying to follow their dreams and feeding off each other. It's a really good vibe."
After four years of playing and cohabiting as a five-piece (Ayers, Rice and guitarist Ryan Hahn have known each other since childhood), Local Natives unleashed the fruits of their labour -- 12 slices of '70s FM Americana that stand up alongside the best of fashionable fellow travellers like Midlake and Fleet Foxes -- in November last year (this side of the pond, at least: a Stateside release is scheduled for mid-February).
Hamm returns from his mission. He's befriended the noisy Dutch ravers who, almost inevitably, are soft-spoken and charming in real life. Aux Raux, the bassist reports, is Germanic onomatopoeia for -- roughly -- "ow, that really hurts!" A useful cultural tidbit for a group of locals who -- with their first European tour under their belts and an evolving arsenal of seductively hazy melodies -- are expanding their horizons by the day.
Local Natives' 'Gorilla Manor' is out now in the UK, and is released in the US on Feb. 16 through Frenchkiss Records. The band tour the UK from Feb. 24.