Concert Recap: Local Natives, Superhumanoids

Photo from my Instagram.
Photo from my Instagram.

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.

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Concert Recap: Local Natives, Superhumanoids

Concert Recap: Passion Pit, The Joy Formidable, Ra Ra Riot, Roz & The Rice Cakes

On Wednesday, Nov. 28, I had the extreme pleasure of taking my best friend to their first venue concert. The show was Rhode Island’s 95.5 WBRU Birthday Bash and it featured Passion Pit as the headliner. Also playing were Roz & the Rice Cakes, Ra Ra Riot, and The Joy Formidable. Prior to last night, I had seen all of these bands except Roz & the Rice Cakes in completely different settings.

For my first time at Lupo’s, a venue I’ve heard rave reviews about from friends for years, I had a really wonderful night. The venue is intimate in a way that can be either really good or really bad — I experienced both last night, as the show was sold out and there was an intense number of people pressing against each other to ward off the slight winter chill that still permeated the building up until Passion Pit took the stage at 10:30 p.m. Crowded shows are both a blessing and a curse because they are so packed full of energy — but also packed full of people who are obnoxious twats, 90 percent of the time.

Roz & the Rice Cakes brought a really energetic set to the stage. I was impressed by the band’s sound — an odd combination of Marley-esque rock and Letters to Cleo-style vocals. The lead singer, though she couldn’t have been more than 5′ tall, brought down the house. I had never heard of the band before seeing it at last night’s show but I am definitely interested in hearing the recorded music and seeing the Rice Cakes live a second time to get a better scope on the sound.

Ra Ra Riot were absolutely lovely. I first saw this band open for Death Cab for Cutie at a small venue in Reno, NV in 2009. I had barely heard of the band then but after seeing its set and hanging with the band for a bit after the show, I became a fan. I’ve since listened to Ra Ra Riot’s music fairly often and seeing the band again was really fantastic. The cool thing about Ra Ra Riot’s music is that it’s all incredibly mellow (almost just plain slow) in the recorded versions, but live, there’s an energy that’s undeniable. I loved getting to hear “Can You Tell” and “Dying Is Fine” live — the band played a solid mix of tracks from its first two records and its upcoming new release.

I first saw The Joy Formidable by accident. I was at Bamboozle New Jersey in 2010 and happened upon the band’s set while I was waiting for Good Old War to take the adjacent stage. Much like Ra Ra Riot, The Joy Formidable has a sound that is much mellower recorded and much more intense live. At a setting like Bamboozle, that energy worked because it was in a big open space with a fair number of people who either knew or didn’t know the band. At Lupo’s, the energy was almost too much. It’s possible I’d just started to reach my exhaustion limit by this point, but my friend and I only stayed in the venue for part of The Joy Formidable’s set.

Sadly, we also bailed early on Passion Pit. Despite absolutely loving this band and looking forward to seeing them for the second time for weeks leading up the show, the band took forever to actually hit the stage and my friend and I had both reached the point of grumpy exhaustion that not even really great music can cure. We stayed for the first quarter of the band’s set and then left feeling pleased and excited, but also very ready to get home. Even that quarter set was incredible, though. The first time I saw this band was at UNH in 2010… The show sold out but hardly anyone in the crowd knew more tracks than “Little Secrets” and “Sleepyhead.” The great thing about seeing a band again at a venue that’s packed full of fans after seeing it in a venue that’s packed full of bored college kids is getting to absorb the energy of fellow fans and soak in the experience.

Overall, the night was really, really good. I’d definitely like to try attending another show at Lupo’s — maybe something a little more indie and a little less rock? — and I’d love to experience Passion Pit at a larger venue with more room to dance. At any rate, even having left early, this show was more than worth it.

Concert Recap: Passion Pit, The Joy Formidable, Ra Ra Riot, Roz & The Rice Cakes