It’s been nearly three years since The Naked And Famous graced the Queen City with their electronic melodic pop – so long ago that The Underground, the venue TNAF headlined, served as a country music club for locals. A lot has changed in that three-year hiatus. Not only has the New Zealand five-piece evolved together, but they’ve also released a brand new, flawless album Simple Forms, illustrating all that’s transpired since visiting Charlotte in 2014.
The romantic yet melancholy Luna Shadows opened TNAF’s return to Charlotte with undeniably addictive electro-pop. Often described as a mix of Lana Del Rey and Lorde with a hint of Ellie Goulding, the instrumentalist introduced the near sold-out crowd to a plethora of pleasing tunes. Luna Shadows captured her relatively newfound audience from the get-go, so much so that couples murmured, “I’m going home to look her up and buy her CD” while they sauntered to the bathroom together.
The LA native brings a piece of home with her everywhere she goes. Whether it’s the California state flag that’s draped over her personal drum kit, unleashing the sounds of the The Golden State on each thump or the blissful lyrics, “Los Angeles if you’ll be mine, then I’ll stay lonely only for you… hallelujah California.” With only a four-song EP and recent single “Cheerleader” to her name, the sky’s the limit for Luna Shadows and her dreamy pop sound.
The lights went dark and part-silhouettes emerged from stage right. Vocalist and guitarist Thom Powers gave Charlotte a wave before his counterpart Alisa Xayalith stepped into the spotlight. “I’ll be right here, with you, every step of the way,” Xayalith crooned the lyrics to “The Water Beneath You”, as if speaking directly to the southern crowd. The heavy drums and upbeat melody inspired mindless dancing that mixed well with the tones. The lively vibe carried into “Higher”, the band’s lead single off Simple Forms, before TNAF turned back the clocks performing “All Of This”.
The passion behind both Xayalith and Powers’s vocals rang out and each “Thank you” highlighted the appreciation for their die-hard fanbase. There’s few dual-fronted bands that possess the same chemistry and power as The Naked And Famous. Accentuated in “Punching In A Dream”, Xayalith’s distinguished, sweeping vocals set the high-flying tone before Powers brought his parallel back down through soft-spoken lyrics. With the original lineup still intact, the band’s perfected sound is a testament to the time and effort each member has committed over the years.
The Naked And Famous struck a nostalgic nerve upon unveiling “Young Blood” – a song that ranks among the most used in pop culture history. The renowned hit and radio standout from 2011 created a frenzy, unlike any other track that featured in the band’s 16-song set list. The audience matched the song’s energy and belted the unforgettable lyrics back at the band who welcomed the crowd’s contributions with open arms. While the song would’ve served as the perfect sendoff, The Naked And Famous returned for an encore that feature both “Last Forever” and “Rotten”. The lyrics “this feeling won’t last forever, forever” encapsulated the night, offering a sense of reality that not a single soul in the venue wanted to accept.