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Local Natives Ready to Conquer Walt Disney Concert Hall

By Mark Fisher
Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, at 08:08PM
Local Natives Thomas Oxley Photography

A lot has happened since Local Natives first showcased at SXSW 2009 in Austin, Texas. The Silver Lake-based quintet has been touring and performing nonstop for a year in support of Gorilla Manor, their critically acclaimed debut album. The members of Local Natives recently returned from Japan and Australia and are now being welcomed home with a sold-out show on Saturday, February 26th, 2011 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The band will then scratch off their bucket lists and join Arcade Fire on a handful of West Coast dates.

Not bad for a group of young and laid-back folk-rockers that once called South Orange County home.

The band‘s beginning stems from high school in and around Mission Viejo. About six years ago, Taylor Rice (vocals, guitar), Kelcey Ayer (vocals, keyboards, percussion, guitar), Ryan Hahn (vocals, guitar, keyboards, mandolin), Andy Hamm (backing vocals, bass) and Matt Frazier (drums) banded together to form the current lineup. The group's love for harmonizing came from a variety of influences that included The Beatles, Beach Boys, Zombies and Crosby, Stills, & Nash. The band also loves a good beat. “I was also always into bands with interesting drum rhythms; it was something we all united around,” said guitarist Ryan Hahn in a recent phone interview. “At the time, everyone was into Broken Social Scene, Animal Collective and Radiohead.”

The group has spent a lot of time together since their early days of inhabiting "Gorilla Manor," the house which they shared together and filled with musicial instruments and empty pizza boxes. Since Local Natives released the self-funded Gorilla Manor in the U.S. in February 2010, their time spent together touring the globe has only enhanced and enlightened their tight creativity and chemistry. Their talented songwriting and loyal friendship carries well on-stage, which makes the band so unique and entertaining in any live setting. The group has been known to jam on railroad tracks, French alleyways and even backyard tree trunks. If one were to give any member an instrument or object that makes sound, they would certainly be rewarded with a song.

Even though the guys in Local Natives have little downtime, the band is still loyal to Downtown Los Angeles. The group last played in Downtown at FYF Fest in September 2010 at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. When asked what draws the band to the neighborhood, Hahn credits Art Walk, along with Villains Tavern, Seven Grand and The Smell. “We never played The Smell and I think we all would love to do that,” added Hawn. “Maybe we’ll get a chance at some point to play there.”

The band’s upcoming Walt Disney Concert Hall gig will begin with an acoustic set supported by a string quartet. The second half of their performance will be backed by a 23-piece orchestra. The group has been working closely with an outside composer and professional musicians to prepare for what could possibly be one of the best concerts of 2011. “All of our songs are going to have a different twist and a few of them will probably throw people off,” commented Hahn. “I’m really excited to see how people react; it is going to be a special night.”

Local Natives’ recent in-studio performance on KCRW‘s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” can be streamed in both audio and video versions from KCRW’s website. Unfortunately, the Local Natives show at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, February 26th, 2011 is sold out. For more information on the band, visit www.thelocalnatives.com.

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