Local Natives, Superhumanoids-April 24th at PAC Mainstage

As soon as the openers, Superhumanoids, began, it became readily apparent what the style of their entire set, regrettably, was going to sound the same. Self-described as creating “music to help kiss the doldrums away”, Superhumanoids’ music represented a creative experiment that was rather hard to understand. There were distinct specialties of the group with clear 80s influences, particularly in the surreally angelic vocals and synth-heavy keyboards, and monotonous drums keeping things heavy. Occasionally the tone shifted to be slightly more aggressive but the tracks inevitably blurred into one very long experience. The vocal harmonies create a haze of noise with lyrics that were easily forgettable, although it did sound rather pretty. This is music to sway back and forth to, not to bust out in karaoke. Whoever decides to try that is undoubtedly going to be the buzz kill of the party. Superhumanoids had obvious technical skills. However, it is still far too hard to remember their set. There is no one song to pinpoint as a favorite or one particularly exciting moment. Superhumanoids appeal to their demographic and do well to appease the dream-pop box that they have stuck themselves in.

Local Natives have consistently been one of the most requested bands amongst WWU students and the crowd was large accordingly. While their performance definitely had more energy, it too felt like a repetitive cycle, albeit a much more enjoyable one. To their credit, they did have that one catchy song that made even the hugest yawners perk up. “Sun Hands” was the perfect track to get excited over and the very persistent chorus unconsciously urged listeners to sing along. To their credit, Local Natives utilized the beloved indie clapping sound much more than the opening act attempted. Although they are also devotees of the shoegaze genre, Local Natives had a refreshing balance between introspective, mellower tracks and celebratory devil-may-care tunes. While the openers just sounded like a lot of noise, Local Natives thankfully sounded like a lot of detailed and well thought-out noise. The unique drumbeats kept listeners guessing, if they listened hard enough, and vocals were beautifully ethereal.

Take either of these artists’ albums to your local thrift shop or record store, and many patrons will immediately nod their heads to the music in confident familiarity. Feel free to reference their names as “that one really cool band” when you want to impress others. Just don’t ask anyone which track is his or her favorite, for you may never get an answer.

Indie bands face a unique conundrum as much of their music is perfect to keep low in the background as specifics of band names and track titles blur into one indistinctive, yet lovely sound. It is the ambiance of the sound that engages listener. What better genre to act as a soundtrack for random philosophical discussions, for long road trips, for sitting around with friends as you try to decide what to do for the afternoon as time and possibilities seem endless. Perhaps this concert would have been as fulfilling listening via stereo in a bedroom somewhere, but that is okay. The experience wasn’t unpleasant in the slightest. The details aren’t exactly memorable but positive afterthoughts are certain.