The Naked and Famous
The Fox Theatre, Pomona
New Zealand synth-indie-rock-alt-pop-something-or-other band The Naked and Famous gave North America a damn good farewell last Saturday, as the five-piece ended their North American tour in Pomona and is headed off to Europe.
The band weren't particularly known for their live performances in support of their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You. But after playing those songs for 200 shows over two years, the band set out to write something that would translate well live. And with sophomore album “In Rolling Waves,” they succeeded.
I was worried that the majority of the crowd was going to be obnoxious high school students waiting for the most massively successful songs — “Young Blood,” “Punching in a Dream,” “Girls Like You”–and clueless about the rest of the setlist (maybe it's an Orange County thing?), but I was so wrong.
Everyone was mesmerized. The initial cheering from the cutting lights died down as the darkness lingered. Any noise was quickly met with continued silence. When The Naked and Famous opened the set with the plucky strumming of “A Stillness,” the lead song off of their new album, the room was happiness.
The new music continued into the second song with new lead single “Hearts Like Ours,” a distinctly more mellow song than “A Stillness.” It wasn't until the third song that The Naked and Famous performed something from their previous album, semi hit song “Girls Like You” (one of my personal favorites.)
Throughout their set, the band was draped in light from their impressive stage set up, six rib-like pillars, each with at least five different kinds of lights. The light show was the most technically impressive feat of the night, perfectly synced, beautifully done, atmospheric, and enchanting. The lights backed up the band's stylistic shifts between songs and albums, from heavy and foreboding to light and ethereal.
The band's encore was a perfect summation of the night and of their attitudes. The two-song closer was balanced between old and new and opened with "To Move With Purpose” from the new album, a mellow, driving song that builds towards a crescendo before fading away. The second song, top hit "Young Blood” from "Passive Me, Aggressive You,” shimmers and is full of hope, energy, and nostalgia — a perfect marriage of old and new.
The Naked and Famous will be back in the United States starting February, playing shows supporting Imagine Dragons. They'll be at the forum in LA Feb. 14 and in San Diego the day after. Really, they should be headlining, but go anyways, because it's an amazing show.
Critical Bias: A cute girl introduced me to the Naked and Famous. I thought it was a hint — it wasn't.
The Crowd: Nearly everyone was there. Young, old, Asian, white, Hispanic. I haven't seen a show this mixed since Kendrick Lamar in Seattle.
Overheard in the Audience: "Come on cover band, one more song!”
Random Notebook Dump: I swear, the lobby was full of vape smoke.
Hearts Like Ours
Girls Like You
I Kill Giants
All of This
Punching in a Dream
What We Want
To Move With Purpose