Victor Hugo that great voice of popular culture once said nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. And although a Local Native’s show at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona… in 2013 may be a strange place and time for such a quote to come into my head, it nevertheless crept into my consciousness again and again during the hour and change that Local Natives graced Tempe with their presence.
Now, if you’re still hanging in there on this review, I will take the time to explain the connection of a French revolutionary writer sharing his ideas on life and liberty in late 19th Century France and the event that transpired Sunday evening. The connection is this- Local Natives speak directly to the experience of being a Generation Y-er in the modern world. In particular, a Generation Y-er in modern America.
Now luckily for Local Natives, and for all of us actually, they are a legitimately awesome band. Chops? Check. Beautiful songs? Check. Gorgeous three-part harmonies? Check. The requisite percussion-heavy songs? Check.
But what seals the deal and what makes them eligible for the Voice of a Generation prize is what they are saying. And how what they are saying defines an era so specifically.
None of these dots would have ever been connected had it not been seen with my own eyes. But it was. And now that we’re discussing seeing things with our own eyes. It was during “Wide Eyes,” third in the lineup, that this whole idea began to take root.
Let us for a moment consider this- Can a young person who has grown up in the “I share; therefore I am,” world where documenting experience has become more important that the experience itself understand the irony of hearing a band describe the desire for real experience? The idea can make you downright dizzy. While watching a crowd of youths watch the screen on their iPhones as they record the concert going on right in front of them, the jury is still out.
For most Americans under 25, documenting an event so it may be viewed by many vastly outweighs the singular private experience on an event. But maybe the time has come for some sort of reflection on continuing down such an ironically lonesome path. Although it could be suggested that yes, there is a minor movement of young people who’ve decided that over sharing on social media is NOT actually a substitute for the real thing. It hasn’t stopped the majority. Not yet.
A few minutes later, “Camera Talk” echoes the exact same idea. In the days of instagram, tubl, facebook and vine, cameras do more talking than ever. And all this image sharing is all “run of the mill” for a person born in the late 80s – early 90s.
At the end of a intense set with little down time, an acoustic version of “Who Knows Who Cares” is the final sign that Local Natives might just be the most important voice of the Millennials descends like a clap of thunder to the brain.
Imagine this… what if you were a child, or tween, or teen when two planes crashed into the World Trace Center towers? What if your formative years fall solidly in the twelve years of war abroad, financial insecurity of every possible kind, whether it’s the clusterfuck that is our healthcare system, the end of a Social Security? Or what about domestic gun violence almost on a monthly basis? Or the pressure to get into college only to find there are no opportunities once you graduate? And the list goes on. Imagine growing up with all of this and having no other way of understanding the world. What anthem would be more appropriate than “Who knows Who cares”? It’s the lyrical equivalent of complete surrender to skepticism. Something we’re not accustomed to seeing in the bright eyed, bushy tailed youth. But there it is.
As I walk out before the song ends, the crowd clings together (war wary masses comes to mind), lighters (and cameras) held high, swaying and singing along to the lyrics that cut so deep for these people facing a lifetime of anxiety and uncertainty… Who knows? Who cares?
(Talking Heads cover)
You & I
Who Knows, Who Cares