Madison held its breath waiting for the Local Natives to take the stage at the Majestic Wednesday night. The band brought a night full of energy, emotion and intimacy.
Indie pop artist Little Scream took the stage first. Little Scream is the stage name of Laurel Sprengelmeyer, who delivered her own singer-songwriter twist on indie pop, with bouncing beats and soft vocals. She appeared on stage again later, featured on Local Natives’ “Dark Days.”
After what seemed like an eternity (like actually, the crew took forever to set up the stage), Local Natives walked on. The crowd erupted before they even got to say a word. It’s not surprising though, because the first song they played was “Wide Eyes,” which is listed as their second most popular song. I nearly cried myself.
The set-list for the night seemed to be specifically tailored to the audience’s wants, and the Natives had fun doing it. They played favorites from all their albums – Gorilla Manor, Hummingbird and their latest, Sunlit Youth.
They played favorites like, “You & I,” “Breakers,” “Airplanes,” “Ceilings,” “Coins,” “I Saw You Close Your Eyes,” and more.
Each song was filled with such emotion and energy that it was radiating off of the band members, and they infiltrated the crowd with these feelings. The most energy seemed to be coming from Taylor Rice, guitarist, and Kelcey Ayer, keyboardist. They both provided vocals as well and created seamless harmonies that make your heart ache with happiness.
While listeners might expect the Local Natives to be laid back and chill live performers, they were the complete opposite. The band played so loud and heavy that the floor vibrated like I’ve never felt before. They danced and felt the music as much as the audience was feeling it.
The Local Natives created moments like these on purpose — they would build up songs so much until it felt like the room was going to combust. They’d begin a song, but just when you thought the vocals would come in, they waited and waited until we couldn’t handle it. They knew they were teasing us, but we loved it.
While there was hardly any talking between a constant stream of songs, the members slipped in a few words here and there. They reflected on their past Madison shows with fondness and remembered playing their first ever show here at the High Noon Saloon.
Intimacy was also a big part of the show. For “Colombia,” Ayer told us of a personal loss he had experienced, which is what the song is about. The room became silent for this song, and the band members played gently and powerfully.
During lyrics, “Am I giving enough?” and “Am I loving enough,” the room was at a standstill, and the mist on the stage appeared to dance in the blue lights around his head.
The Natives also played their version of “Ultralight Beam,” which enveloped the crowd in delicate harmonies and created a heavy atmosphere.
More songs followed, specifically one called, “Fountain of Youth.” In regards to the political and societal climate, the Local Natives have decided to put their faith in future generations, which is highlighted in the lyrics of the song.
“We want to see the world united,” Rice said to the crowd. “This is our world.”
As if the band couldn’t get any more likable, they had to go and say something like that. I think the entire crowd, men and women alike, swooned.
Eventually their last song arrived, “Who Know Who Cares.” Of course the crowd wouldn’t let them go after that, and the band came back on stage for an encore. Rice held up his guitar in the air while walking back in place, and the crowd went wild.
The crowd also noticed Rice took out the braids he had in his hair for the duration of the show and put it in a bun. But for “Sun Hands,” their last encore song, Rice ripped out his hair and let it run wild.
It was during this final encore song that the crowd was swept away with intense energy and passion. It was so loud and fast-paced that it nearly blew us away, literally.
It is safe to say the Local Natives really knocked this show out of the park. In all honesty, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and as an arts editor (and music fan), I’ve seen lots.