Local Natives opened the sold-out first night of back-to-back shows at 9:30 Club with “Gulf Shores” the penultimate track off their fourth album, Violet Street. Soaring harmonies in complete darkness from vocalists Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Taylor Rice were punctuated by thrashing guitars, the siren of Nik Ewing’s synthesizer, Matt Frazier’s crashing cymbals, and flashing strobes to provide a dynamic start to the set.
The crowd was already familiar with the new material, singing along to the infectious bass line of “Megaton Mile.” The band also dipped heavily into material from across their decade-long career, with songs from their three earlier albums made up over half of the set list. In a climactic moment during “Sun Hands” from their Gorilla Manor debut, Rice jumped into the crowd screaming “And when I can feel with my sun hands / I promise not to lose her again” as he surfed to the center of 9:30 Club.
Other highlights from Violet Street included “Cafe Amarillo,” “When Am I Gonna Lose You,” and “Tap Dancer.”
Middle Kids opened the night with a set of clever indie rock to carry Hannah Joy’s trembling yelps. Drummer Harry Day, singer and guitarist Joy, and bassist Tim Fitz (who couldn’t contain a brief smirk when someone yelled “Marry me!” at Joy—his wife—during the set) formed their band in Sydney, Australia. Despite the band’s origins from the other side of the globe, Hannah has local connections. She attended Broadneck High School in Annapolis and recalled trips into DC for shows at 9:30 Club as highlights of those years.