AR already beat me to the punch in writing about last night’s Local Natives and Superhumanoids show at Fête in Providence, RI, but that’s okay. Their recap can be found here, and it’s pretty thorough. Our thoughts regarding last night are very similar. We attended the show with two of our friends and had a fantastic time — though the night was pocked with some interesting misadventures.
Protip to anyone attending a show at this gem of a concert venue: parking is easy to find and decently priced. There’s street parking, as well as an “official lot” and even valet. Though Fête is located in a semi-sketchy neighborhood, I felt completely safe while there and the venue itself is absolutely beautiful. It has two main rooms: a lounge area with a small stage and a bar, as well as a ballroom with a full balcony (and bars on each level). Local Natives performed in the ballroom. I’m not sure if Fête ever hosts shows in its smaller lounge area, but if it doesn’t, it should. The space is intimate and small, perfect for an acoustic show.
We spent the evening on the balcony, which was great because it offered an uninterrupted view of the stage and pretty solid sound (though there were some issues with the treble during the opening set and a few “too-loud” moments during the Local Natives set, as well — for such a small space, the sound was really intense). The only downfall of being on the second floor was the fact that when the room got hot, we roasted. The venue’s bars only accept cash and the only ATM in the building was out of service, but luckily the bartender gave me a cup of ice for free that cooled us down enough to make the heat bearable.
Superhumanoids opened the evening and although I think the band’s music would translate well on a recording, it did not translate well live. The crowd didn’t seem to be feeling the music. It was very techno-based, which is fine in most live settings, but as AR pointed out in their recap, the band just seemed too invested in its instruments and not in the crowd. The lead vocalist had a stunning set of pipes and the little crowd interaction that did take place was great, but the music was slow and sad enough that it needed some energy to back it up. Unfortunately, that energy wasn’t there. I was disappointed in the performance from start to finish.
Whether due to sound issues or some other unknown problems, Local Natives didn’t take the stage for more than half an hour after Superhumanoids left it. During that time, the heat started to rise and the crowd started to get restless — us included. But once the band took the stage, everything got progressively better until we left the venue proclaiming the night to be a total success. It was a great show. Why? Because Local Natives owned the stage and gave the crowd what it wanted.
Despite proclaiming early into the set that it’d be playing a lot of tracks from its new record, Hummingbird, Local Natives actually played a massive selection of old favorites from their debut record, Gorilla Manor. I’m not sure if the set list was planned that way or if the band adjusted according to audience response, but I can’t help but think it was the latter. Hummingbird is a gorgeous album, instrumentally and vocally, but it’s also very slow and kind of dark in comparison to the more upbeat tone of Gorilla Manor. The crowd at Fête was obviously more interested in the dancier, more fun tracks — people started to shout for the classic “Sun Hands” not ten minutes into the set.
Local Natives had massive energy throughout the entire set and the band interacted with the crowd constantly. It was impossible to take my eyes off the stage for longer than a minute, even during tracks that I didn’t recognize or couldn’t remember well enough to sing. By the time the band finally played “Sun Hands” — as the very last song of the night — everyone in the room was screaming at the top of their lungs, dancing, and jumping around. The energy in the room absolutely vibrated with its intensity. It was a great way to end a show that started out slowly enough for me to worry it wouldn’t be enjoyable.
I’d love to see Local Natives live again, whether in an intimate setting like the one at Fête or a broader, more expansive setting like a festival. The band clearly knows how to play a room and I respect that. Local Natives’ music is meant to be played loud and shouted at the top of your lungs, so it’s absolutely perfect live.