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The National Parks grow with age

Thunder Road, Somerville, Mass., July 14, 2016

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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If only expecting an Americana, indie-folk kind gig from The National Parks, the listener would have been sorely disappointed. Not because the music - highly energetic dance pop is what the Utah-based band plays these days - was not invigorating and engaging, but only because it was so radically different from a few short years ago over the course of two albums.

But different does not equal bad as the indie quintet easily made the musical transition. The band's debut, "Young," from 2013 was a country and roots-flavored affair, while last year's "Until I Live" placed them into Mumford & Sons territory.

But translating that into a live show was a totally different order. Seconds into the early hour-long show, effusive, high-energy fiddle player Megan Taylor led the charge, facing off against acoustic guitarist Brady Parks, who also was the lead singer, to get the party started on "Coracao." While the songs tended to be gentler on the recorded versions, The National Parks turned it up a few notches live with they keyboards of Sydney Macfarlane often steering the sonics.

The fast-paced show continued with such songs as "Ba Ba Ra," another selection geared to get the crowd and dancing along. The band shifted gears a few times on "Bird's Eye," setting a good beat, picking up the pace before bringing it back down.

As for old sounds, The National Parks played a few songs from "Young," the anthemic sing-a-long, "Wind & Anchor" with Parks going into crowd and leading the crowd into singing "don't leave me like this."

Parks waded into the youthful crowd a few times as well, dancing along with the fans, contributing to the joy of the material, particularly on the closing "As We Ran."

The transition towards the pop edge will apparently will continue for The National Parks on their next disc, according to Taylor. So, it's not exactly the music would have expected walking in, but it certainly left you feeling uplifted on the way out.