The Naked & Famous
BEN WEISZ on The Naked & Famous: ‘with better techies, theirs will be the must-have sound at any festival this summer’.
The Naked & Famous w/ Wolf Gang, ARU, Thursday 24th February
Become the first native band in 16 years to top the New Zealand chart. Check. Get listed in the BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll. Check. Produce a stunning debut record with few, if any, weak links. Check. The Naked & Famous are on the ascent. The signs are promising, albeit tempered with a few technical glitches.
They found worthy support from Wolf Gang, who threatened to steal the show with their upbeat, vivacious indie pop. Singer Max McElligott won round the audience with his endearingly bumbling vocals, razor-sharp falsetto and, most importantly, a carnation in his lapel. Anthemic closing number Lions in Cages animated the crowd more than most of the headliners’ set, a statement of intent from a band that is going to make waves this year.
By the time Thom, Alisa et al strode out, backed by a remix of All Of This and with the confidence of a much older band, the cosy set-up at the Student’s Union was heaving with anticipation. Unfazed, the band launched straight into their set with poise and control. Punching In A Dream was enormous – teenage angst never sounded so fun – while the start-stop nature of Spank kept the crowd on its toes.
But during slow-burner The Sun, tensions emerged. The contrast between Alisa’s expressiveness and Thom’s static control often worked to add new dimensions to the performance, but at times Thom looked a little too cool. Forgetting which city you’re playing in is not the best way to endear yourself to an expectant crowd. At times, the sound levels were all wrong: the beautiful harmonies on No Way were broken up by a wall of distortion – the soaring piano line that accompanies it on the recording completely drowned out, leaving a gaping lack of direction. Occasionally, Alisa’s vocals paled into the background.
Nevertheless, the band brought it back around for visceral new single Young Blood and epic belter Girls Like You, which sent the energy skyward. The Naked and Famous are worth keeping an eye on – with better techies, theirs will be the must-have sound at any festival this summer.