PHOTOS: Local Natives bring atmospheric soundscapes to the Fox Theater

Local Natives

Local Natives perform at The Fox Theater in Oakland on June 21, 2019. Photos: Joaquin Cabello

OAKLAND — Local Natives brought its Spiral Choir Tour to the Fox Theater on Friday, creating an atmosphere full of ambient vibrations and airy harmonies. The Los Angeles indie rockers played mostly songs from their latest release, Violet Street, with lead vocalist-guitarist Taylor Rice driving a tight performance.

Local Natives

Local Natives perform at The Fox Theater in Oakland on June 21, 2019.

Local Natives opened their set with the peaceful new cut “Vogue,” followed by “Sun Hands,” from 2009’s Gorilla Manor. The 10-year jump between songs showed a clear change in sound, going from simple and tight to more contemporary and slickly produced. They continued with “You & I,” from 2013’s Hummingbird, its atmospheric indie rock enhanced by the changing lights on stage.

“Gulf Shores,” another Violet Street cut, had a flatter sound that lost a bit of the original rawness. This contrasted with the atmospheric and textured “Ceilings,” from Hummingbird, and 2017 single “I Saw You Close Your Eyes,” with its compelling vocal harmonies.

Conversely, “Coins,” from 2016’s Sunlit Youth, blended both atmospheric and raw tones through Rice’s s soaring vocals, while Kelcey Ayer and Ryan Hahn provided backup support. Their three-part singing, plus Matt Frazier’s slow-paced drum fills and Nik Ewing’s keyboard playing, created one of the set’s highlights. “Airplanes” and “Wide Eyes” unwound wiggly guitars and clattering drum fills that evoked a more primitive sound.

Rice introduced “Garden of Elysian” as a “more nostalgic song that [took] place in a hotel in Los Angeles”—its deep bass lines outlining its pensive nature. “Dark Days” then prompted the loudest singalong of the night, only to be followed by the immersive sounds of “When Am I Gonna Lose You.”

Local Natives’ encore included “Shy,” “Tap Dancer” and “Who Knows, Who Cares,” a throwback from their earlier days.

Middle Kids opened the show with a blend of ’90s alt-pop to 2000s alt-rock. The Australian indie rockers—consisting of singer-guitarist Hannah Joy, bassist Tim Fitz (her husband) and drummer Harry Day—colored their arrangements with a wide palette of sounds, electronic textures and clean vocals on soaring choruses.

The band’s energy switched between calm ballads to poppy anthems with a stadium sound. The trio performed songs mostly from 2018 album Lost Friendsincluding “Edge of Town,” “Mistake,” “On My Knees,” “Bought It” and “Don’t Be Hiding.”

They also performed songs from their latest EP, New Songs for Old Problems, showing a more mature and defined sound. This amalgam allowed the band to defy falling into one specific genre.


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