The perhaps not-so-disparate music worlds of Brooklyn and Los Angeles were spectacularly united Monday night at Sticky Fingerz. BK's Suckers
, clearly lifers, turned out an astounding set relying on their precarious instrumentation: Two guitarists and the bass player all shared vocal duties and tended some drum-machine console set before them, as a friend observed, like helming a spacecraft. For certain numbers, a band member would start playing one instrument, say, a trumpet, and end up playing bass while holding a drumstick, between triangle-bashes. Or the drummer would play the intro on a nearby keyboard, only to finish the song walloping a floor-tom with a single maraca. Bands who capture ambitious song structures and complicated arrangements are worth seeing simply for the value of their execution. Suckers have that, but throw in whistle-harmonies, clever lyrics and elaborate indie rock, to boot.
While the crowd was hearty for Suckers' set, when LA's Local Natives took stage attendance seemingly tripled. Seeing a widely-hyped band is a careful dance of expectation, especially when that band relies on rocked-out, semi-orchestral breakdowns behind full-throated four-part harmonies. Anything can go wrong. The slightest thing can disappoint. But they held fast.
In contrast to Suckers, Local Natives
feel like recent liberal arts college dropouts. There's an unexpected latter-day Jonas-Brothers quality to their varied coifs, natty hipster duds, and Semitic good looks. Live, their West Coast harmonies are wickedly tight. Their songs come off bouncing with as much head-nodding energy as on their record. But despite traded instruments, jumbled front man repositioning and crowd fervor, it became apparent that the true allure of seeing the Natives is their sheer vocal power. Even if they intelligently walk the line of thoughtful indie boy band, their hearts tear through their performances, and one would be remiss not to see them play again. And again.