The world fell in love with The Naked And Famous’ sound back in 2010 after the release of their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You, and very little has changed ever since. The New Zealanders soft tones coupled with soaring vocals creates a dazzling blaze of psych fireworks that’s inescapable. The feeling only intensified with their third record, Simple Forms, and has propelled the dual-fronted quintet back into a spotlight they’ve grown fond of over the years.
On a chilly night at the Buckhead Theatre, nestled in Atlanta’s vibrant northern neighborhood, The Naked And Famous unveiled their third studio album to a near sold-out audience. Along with tour mates, The Chain Gang of 1974 and XYLO, TNAF provided the A-Town natives with an evening of entrancing, exemplary synth-pop.
The soft, echoed intro of “The Water Beneath You” broke the silence and darkness as The Naked And Famous strolled out from behind a black curtain stage-left. Blue and red stage lights, mimicking the colors of Simple Forms, colored the upscale venue and created silhouettes out of vocalists Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers. Cloaked in a sheer black gown, Xayalith gripped the microphone in her left hand and passionately unleashed her renowned vocals.
Photos by Benjamin Robson
The crowd remained relatively silent until pure darkness shadowed the band, signaling the end of their opener and the start of “Higher.” Heads began to bob and before too long, the better half of the theatre exhibited their joy through mindless dancing that mixed well with the tones. TNAF took their fans back to the start of the decade with the faster “All Of This” and “Punching In A Dream” – two staples from the band’s debut record. “Rolling Waves,” The Naked And Famous’ most rock-oriented song, followed and highlighted the band’s growth over the half-decade. While they still remain spot on when it comes to striking each notes, the indie-rock that helped jumpstart their career has taken backseat in recent memory – yet they haven’t lost a touch of brilliance.
The room lit up purple as Powers took over to sing “Grow Old” and “Hearts Like Ours.” His gentle voice clashed well with Xayalith’s escalating vocals and the duo’s stage presence welcomed the crowd’s participation. Newer tracks such as “Laid Low” and “The Runners” gave the night a boost as their more cheerful vibe and freshness invigorated a crowd that appeared to awaken from a spell once the choruses kicked in. The live instrumentation and infectious synth bliss blended seamlessly and set the stage for the standout song of the night.
The Naked And Famous struck a nostalgic nerve upon unveiling the song that Atlanta yearned for – “Young Blood.” The renowned hit and radio standout from 2011 created a frenzy, unlike any other track that featured the band’s 17-song setlist. The audience matched the song’s energy and belted the unforgettable lyrics back at Xayalith and Powers who welcomed the crowd’s contributions with open arms. While The Naked And Famous didn’t cap the night off with the catchy tune – more so because the audience needed a few additional songs to relieve their high – the performance unquestionably served as the pinnacle of the euphoric evening.