1. The Boulevard Pool stage isn’t the biggest, but bands usually find inventive ways to make do with its limited size. Tonight, The Naked and Famous have industrial light structures that could’ve been inspired by Doc Ock’s metal tentacles in Spiderman 2. But the performance feels lifeless. Backing tracks and multiple synths make the group sound just like its records. With no improvisational moments, everything feels overly rehearsed.
2. Lead singer Alisa Xayalith saves the band from appearing too boring. Xayalith dances and jumps throughout each song, often with a smile on her face, and she’s dressed impeccably in an ankle-length draped gown. Her New Zealand accent doesn’t come through when she’s singing but shines full force when she greets the crowd.
3. Thom Powers’ skin-tight shirt with mesh shoulders is a little much, as is his excessive hair flipping each time he powerfully strums his guitar. Luckily his vocals, reminiscent of The xx’s Oliver Sim, make up for it. Even though I prefer Xayalith’s lead vocals on the latest album, In Rolling Waves, Powers has the stronger live voice, surprisingly.
4. It’s not packed, but there’s a sizeable crowd. Most of the audience seems preoccupied with conversation, so I move to a spot left of stage where people are more attentive. Xayalith asks the crowd to sing the chorus of the new album’s title track, but gives up on the idea halfway through.
5. The Naked and Famous revive their performance with their most popular singles, “Punching in a Dream” and “Young Blood.” It’s also the only time during the night when the audience actually appears excited, jumping and cheering to the band’s pulsing electro beats. Had they been sharing a stage at Life Is Beautiful, The Naked and Famous would have probably stood out as one of the best acts. As a headliner, the lack of a “wow” moment is more apparent.