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    Last night at Mercury Ballroom, Los Angeles indie rock band Local Natives kicked off their first Louisville show since Forecastle with a song from their new album, Sunlit Youth, called “Past Lives.” It was classic Local Natives: a quiet solo falsetto followed by background vocals and electric-rock punches on keys and drums.

    Lead singer and guitarist Taylor Rice, decked in a simple black T-shirt, draped beige cardigan and slicked back bun, announced the show would be a mix of old and new songs. He walked into the middle of the crowd during “Wide Eyes,” the crowd parting like the Red Sea. Phones flashed, and arms wrapped around Rice and the mic cord. The alternating blue, pink and purple lights shining in a wave pattern against the black curtains completed the ultrasonic vibe the band always seems to create.

    Vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Kelcey Ayer said, “This one’s for you Louisville,” and jumped into “Airplanes” from Local Natives’ debut album, Gorilla Manor. The entranced crowd sang along about a girl who studied abroad in Japan. All the musicians went silent except the drummer, illuminating the chorus of the audience. Then the full band came back together, with high energy and higher sounds to round out the song. The whole place was shaking.

    Toward the end, Ayer brought out Laurel Sprengelmeyer, lead singer from the opening band Little Scream, for a duet called “Dark Days.” If you’re not familiar with this band, get familiar. They’re basically the female-led version of Local Natives. The show came to a close with the protest anthem “Fountain of Youth,” highlighting the 2016 presidential election, and “Columbia,” an Ayer solo from the group’s 2013 album Hummingbird that brought the house down to a melancholy lull. “Every night I ask myself, am I giving enough?” he sang. The guitar picked up pace, accompanied by Rice on keys, and the sound grew heavier and heavier.

    Fan favorite “Who Knows Who Cares” ended the set with a soaring sing-along. The band took it easy to let the audience fill the lyric gaps. Couples held each other tight and friends held their beers high. After the show, people hesitated at the exits, looking back at the stage, not quite ready to believe it was over.

    All images by Avery Walts

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