Local Natives Metropolis, Montreal QC, September 27

Local Natives Metropolis, Montreal QC, September 27
Photo: Julie Michaud
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Swirls of blue smoke welcomed the Californian quintet to the stage where they wasted no time launching into their 90-minute set. Filled with Afropop percussion and guitars, and no shortage of chilling three-part harmonies, the group dazzled with tracks from their first two albums, set to synchronized bursts of multi-coloured light from the stage. Opening with "Breakers," the lead single off their 2013 album Hummingbird, the band juxtaposed quiet, harmonic verses with an immersive chorus, filled with relentless waves of sound that still retained a melody. During their cover of Talking Heads' "Warning Sign," the band launched into a captivating three-part a cappella harmony that drove the crowd silent, and Kelcey Ayer's stunning tenor drove the passionate "You & I."

The band made frequent mention of their three-week stint in Montreal when they were working on Hummingbird, and held no restraint in delivering a great performance as thanks for the hospitality. Songs including "Ceilings" and "Mt. Washington" benefitted greatly from the large venue, and the crowd was frequently roused into frenzy. The band ended the set proper with a mostly-acoustic version of "Who Knows Who Cares," retaining the level of grandeur of the studio version with an added fragility that made the performance special.

The band returned for a three-song encore, kicking off their finale with the slower "Colombia" and up-tempo "Heavy Feet" from Hummingbird, demonstrating their versatility before closing the show with the shouty "Sun Hands" from their first album, Gorilla Manor. All the right elements were in place, from the percussion to the vocals to guitars, everything came together for a splendid finale. The crowd exploded into a chant for the song's breakdown while rows of light bulbs swayed in the backdrop for a splendid and fitting finale.

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