The Naked and Famous + Alpine – Northcote Social Club (04.11.10)


The media hype machine has been in overdrive since New Zealand’s young hopefuls The Naked and Famous released their debut record Passive Me, Aggressive You
last month. The band sold out two nights in a row at The Northcote Social Club, with a bevy of excited punters arriving early to catch a glimpse of their new favourite band.

Warming the stage were local six-piece Alpine, showcasing the tunes from their debut EP Zurich
. The little known act did well to hold the audience’s attention with one of the most awkward live sets I’ve seen in a long time. Alpine have a weird aesthetic with dual lead vocals performed by Louisa James and Phoebe Baker, who actively jump around the stage dancing like its 3am at Pony whilst the boys stand stock still in the background, listlessly playing their instruments.

The gorgeous vocal harmonies that were a delightful feature of Zurich were far less impressive live with the girl’s voices sounding thready and off key in places. There were a lot of silent pauses between tracks where Phoebe and Louisa attempted to engage the crowd in conversation which led to more awkward silence. Highlights of the set were nice renditions of “Heartlove” and “Villages”, but all in all it was a disappointing effort from a band whose studio work far outstrips their ability to perform live.

The Naked and Famous took to the stage in a haze of lights and smoke and the packed house went nuts as they launched into “All Of This”. The band kept the mood at a high following on with hit single “Punching In A Dream” and “Frayed”. They proceeded to play the majority of tracks from Passive Me, Aggressive You in order of the track listing, with “Young Blood” receiving rapturous applause from the crowd, who seemed to be enjoying themselves far more than the band members.

Their live set was stale and uninspired. Vocalists Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith appeared to be either shy or simply going through the motions as they stared at their feet, completely ignoring the crowd. The band may as well have been miming to a backing track as their songs barely deviated from the studio recordings and were performed without any passion or energy. For a band who wear their influences firmly on their sleeves, with their music being a mash-up of Trent Reznor, Thom Yorke and MGMT, it’s a real shame they failed to emulate their idols in the live arena, with a lack luster live show that seem to be highly stylised and over-produced with little emotion or personality on show. Their record displayed youthful vigour with plenty of pop appeal, but none of this was apparent in a live setting where the band simply cranked out track after track with no thought for the delivery or performance aspect of the set.

A very underwhelming effort was seen from both Alpine and The Naked and Famous this time around.  Here’s hoping they do a better job when they’re back on our shores for Big Day Out in 2011.