By Josh Herwitt //
Since forming in New Zealand nearly a decade ago, The Naked and Famous have called Los Angeles home for close to four years. In that time, the indie-electronic band has recorded its sophomore full-length album In Rolling Waves at Sunset Sound, the world-famous studio in Hollywood, and played on the main stage at Coachella. So, in many ways, the quintet led by Alisa Xayalith (vocals, keyboards) and Thom Powers (vocals, guitars) have already become well-acquainted with their Southern California surroundings.
But after touring extensively in 2014, The Naked and Famous took off much of last year to work on their forthcoming third LP. And while there’s been no scheduled release date for it yet, they have recently returned to the stage, performing in their homeland earlier this month.
Just days after their set at Auckland City Limits, the band was back stateside for a string of small club shows, three of which were in California. Starting their two-night, sold-out run in LA at the 600-person Teragram Ballroom last Wednesday, The Naked and Famous arrived at an even smaller venue less than 48 hours later, filling the historic Troubadour for a Friday night gig with Australian alt-rock outfit The Rubens.
Though the crowd proved to be rather small and reserved during The Rubens’ opening set, you could feel the energy inside the room starting to build as The Naked and Famous’ 9:30 p.m. stage time approached. With a buzz in the air, Xayalith, Powers, keyboardist Aaron Short, bassist David Beadle and drummer Jesse Wood walked out one by one and received a warm applause from their “hometown” fans before jumping into singles “A Stillness” and “Punching in a Dream”.
Yet, The Naked and Famous hadn’t set out on a seven-date mini tour across North America just to doll out a bunch of older hits. Instead, they made sure to also debut a couple of new offerings (one titled “Higher” and another named “Runners”), giving a sense of what’s to come on their next LP. While both songs didn’t deviate all that much from their previous material, it was clear that Xayalith’s beautiful voice still remains the band’s focal point.
To close out their hour-long performance, Xayalith and her sidekicks went back to 2010’s Passive Me, Aggressive You — the album that ultimately put them on the map — much like they had in SF and LA a few days prior. And although the one-two punch of “No Way” and “Young Blood” left us on a high as we parted ways for the evening, it was the band’s newest material that has us anxious to hear more in the coming months.
Punching in a Dream
Girls Like You
All of This
I Kill Giants
What We Want
Hearts Like Ours