Show Review: Local Natives at The Danforth Music Hall
By Hazel Sands, Feature Photo via The Fader
For the first time in three and a half years, Local Natives graced Toronto with their presence. During this leg of the tour, the opening act is the Montreal-based Little Scream, whose energy and charisma were more than enough to make up for the tech issues and lack of recognition by the small, but growing, crowd. Local Natives followed soon after Little Scream’s set had finished, opening strong by bringing out their freshman hit, “Wide Eyes,” and segueing after into music from their latest album, Sunlit Youth, after amping up the crowd with a slap of nostalgia.
Being the first show back since the 2016 European leg of their Sunlit Youth tour, they were fresh-faced and gave an unparalleled performance filled with the passion they so clearly translate through their recorded music. Their energy easily livened the crowd, and it came to a peak when lead singer Taylor Rice hopped the barrier into the audience during their last encore song, screaming the lyrics to “Sun Hands” while he surfed across a more than willing crowd.
Taylor Rice and Kelcey Ayer’s stage presence was both charming and moving as they told anecdotes of a previous show in Toronto (where Ayer started off by shouting, “Hello Vancouver!” to many boos) and spoke of the struggles in America. Before performing “Masters,” a song from their latest album in which they align themselves with the feminist movement, Rice informed the crowd that for every ticket purchased a dollar would go towards domestic violence intervention and prevention programs. Later on in the show they took another break, before performing their single “Fountain of Youth,” to discuss its origins in an optimistic view that the masses can influence change, and spout their love of Canada for its acceptance of those who come from every background. You could easily see the love and joy of performing in the band’s eyes, and it made the experience all the better as it translated into their music.
While Local Natives has been, and will likely remain, one of my favourite bands both live and recorded, the size of the crowd left me wondering if I was perhaps one of a smaller few than I had realized. While getting ahold of tickets was no easy task, the crowd was notably smaller than the one they had played to all those years ago at the Kool Haus. However, even if they have reached their peak audience, the fanbase they performed for left the show feeling a little more fulfilled after seeing a band that had so long been stagnant in the Canadian concert scene.