"I Kill Giants" by the Naked and Famous
...live in London at the Shepherds Bush Empire, July 2014
When that whole indietronica thing broke big, it was everywhere. It seemed oddly familiar, and friendly, as if it had always been around. It hadn’t, of course. Part of it was media push: during the thick of it, radio bombed their listeners with hourly spins of a Grammy-winning quartet from Connecticut first called the Management, later shortened to MGMT. During the mid-2000s, MGMT’s sonic domination (along with other bands like them) packed concert venues around the world. Where are they now? MGMT’s been on hiatus since 2014. But the Naked and Famous, who snuck in behind them, are still going strong.
Before they were Naked and Famous, it was really just a two-song music college project in Auckland between Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith that mushroomed into a band in 2007. Right time, right place: their 2010 debut got nominated for a BBC Sound of 2011 award, and the single “Young Blood” jumped to number one on the charts; later, the band won a slew of hometown honors. After all that industry love, Xayalith and Powers and the rest of the Naked and Famous did the only thing a rising pop band could do: they blew their native New Zealand and settled in Los Angeles, where they live and work to this day.
“Indie electronic post-punk” is how critics describe their complex music. Whatever. It’s a sound we love, that grand psychedelic attack, because it helps one endure all the sweat and grit and bad plumbing at weekend festivals. Indietronica bands appear to be bigger than the sum of their parts. And if it’s a night-time slot, you forget there’s a band, you forget there’s a stage, because a Naked and Famous light show approximates a journey to one of the seven moons of Jupiter. It’s an experience, the Naked and Famous is, and as such is best not over-thought: “We’ve yet to dream,” sings Xayalith. “Nothing here is what it seems.”
The Chain Gang of 1974 also performs.