In its second year running, MRCY FEST really outdid itself this September with headlining acts like Local Natives and Alabama Shakes. Seeing LA-based psych folk/indie rock band Local Natives was definitely a highlight for me. They brought back a whole wave of nostalgia for the early 2010s and the clean-cut, geeky band aesthetic. Their sound embodies the pinnacle of the repopularisation of harmonic indie rock after the grunge and fanzine craze of the ’90s; in the words of Pitchfork, they’re “sort of a West Coast Grizzly Bear.”
For their recent Montreal gig, they kicked off their set on a high note with the hit “Breakers” from their 2013 LP Hummingbird. Catchy three-part ‘ooouh-ouuuh’ harmonies and double-tempo drumming meshed well with the introspective lyrics. They also played tracks from their debut album Gorilla Manor, like “Wide Eyes”, “Airplanes” and “Camera Talk”, which stood out with its Afro-pop tinged guitar chords.
Local Natives also teased us with a couple songs of their upcoming album, riveting the crowd with their fun melodies and keeping us in anticipation of their official launch. Guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice and keyboardist Kelcey Ayer’s melancholic vocals blend together exceptionally well, and this layered smoothness is probably one of the strongest aspects of their sound.
Their set was long but they maintained their high energy throughout the performance, which only confirmed my opinion of them as talented musicians and solid performers. MRCY FEST, bring them back in 2016?
– Review and photo by Jess Newfield