Local Natives, on the road to ‘Violet Street,’ come clean at the car wash, play surprise show

Local Natives at the Los Feliz Car Wash, rechristened
Local Natives at the Los Feliz Car Wash, rechristened "Megaton Mile" after their new single (Photo by David Gonzalez)

Local Natives always seem to have something up their sleeves.

In 2016, leading up to the release of their third album “Sunlit Youth,” the L.A. quintet did a surprise show at the Masonic Lodge followed by an even-more-surprising rooftop show at their old practice space in Silver Lake. In 2012, it was a surprise show at the Satellite to foreshadow the release of their second album “Hummingbird.”

So with their new album “Violet Street” arriving this week, Monday offered another episode in Follow the Bouncing Band. Via social media, fans were invited to a “listening party” from 7 to 10 p.m. at Los Feliz Car Wash — renamed “Megaton Mile Car Wash” in honor of the new single they released today. There, about 300 or so fans were given wireless headphones to check out the album while inside a repurposed psychedelic tunnel of light and water. And they got tickets for a pop-up show Local Natives would perform that night at Zebulon.

And starting about 10:30, they materialized, fresh from (cue the song) working at the car wash.

“This means so much to us,” singer-guitarist Taylor Rice told the faithful, who got an intimate hour of Local Natives in fine harmonic form. Perhaps because they were back in their old stamping grounds, they kicked off the night with “Sun Hands.” “We thought we’d start off with our oldest song,” singer and multi-instrumentalist Kelcey Ayer said. They performed five songs from the new album — the four singles currently available (“Café Amarillo,” “When Am I Gonna Lose You,” “Tap Dancer’ and “Megaton Mile”), along with “Garden of Elysian.” And they sprinkled in tracks from “Hummingbird” and “Sunlit Youth,” as well.

While “Café Amarillo” and “When Am I Gonna Lose you” offered ample evidence fans had already committed new songs to memory, “Megaton Mile” was the biggest revelation. It’s a dancey, folk-cum-Motown tune with a rolling bass line and noisy breakdown at the end, which we should have seen coming when Ryan Hahn introduced it as “a song about the apocalypse.”

If we are in those final hours, though, it’s best to go down singing the buoyant “oh-oh-ohs” in 2009’s “Who Knows Who Cares.” When Local Natives performed that late in the evening, it felt like a homecoming.

Setlist: Sun Hands, Café Amarillo, You and I, When Am I Gonna Lose You, Ceilings, Dark Days, Megaton Mile, I Saw You Close Your Eyes, Coins, Garden of Elysian, Who Knows Who Cares, Tap Dancer. Encore: Wide Eyes.

Photos by David Gonzalez

||| Stream: “Megaton Mile”

||| Live: Local Natives play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Amoeba. Info. They headline the Palladium on June 22. Tickets.

||| Previously: “Tap Dancer,” “When Am I Gonna Lose You,” “Café Amarillo”