It was after midnight, the show was running 45 minutes behind and many in the crowd were on edge. A large window had been broken during opener Same Brain when a mosh pit started and sent one person flying through it.
Native Fox's guitarist and vocalist James Naylor surveyed the crowd in the living room of Chateau Virago, the Oak Cliff house venue hosting the April Fool's Day show, seemingly asking himself if his band would be able to turn the energy around. This show was meant to be a celebration of their first EP, Floor Model.
Within minutes of beginning to play, Naylor, bassist Kamaron Black, guitarist Liam McCoy and drummer Tristan Wagoner had the stubborn audience attempting to mosh again, even though their poppy music didn't really call for it.
“This was one of most propulsive shows we've had," McCoy says. “Which I think is our only goal really; to have fun and to make everyone else have fun and dance and be happy.”
The band's origins go back to when some of the members were in grade school. "James and I met when we were in elementary school," Wagoner says. In high school they began playing music together, and Naylor decided to form Native Fox. The original group was Naylor, Wagoner and two other friends, Antonio Ramirez and Erik Carrizales.
"There is no bad blood and they are still some of our best friends," Wagoner says, but the lineup eventually changed to incorporate Black and McCoy, two kids from Garland whom they had met during this time. "Liam joined the group when we started getting more serious. We started playing in the DIY scene then."
In November, Native Fox was nominated in two Dallas Observer Music Awards categories: best group act and best pop act. But they've kept fans waiting for their first release.
Native Fox took a laissez-faire approach to recording, choosing to work only when it felt right. “We had one song recorded and ready last year at this time," Waggoner says. "It came together on our own time. ... Some people rush their releases, and that causes a product you don't feel 100 percent behind. With Floor Model we wanted to put our best effort in what is our first group work.”
The band would meet up at Naylor's house to write and record a song at a time. He and Black did most of the mixing and mastering. Now that Native Fox have had such a positive first experience putting out a record, they are more eager to try it again.
The band's sound is a unique amalgamation of psych and pop, featuring bright tones and straightforward, catchy lyrics. "The way James and Liam's guitars play off each other – James does his beautiful Byrds-esque lead stuff while Liam's shit really drives the songs emotionally," says Josh Luttrull of the band Field Guide, who frequently play with Native Fox.
"Seeing them progress as songwriters has been super cool to watch," Luttrull continues. "Lyrically, James is finding his own voice. ... The new stuff's feeling much more personal, so that paired with their technical ability is fuckin' gnarly. And compositionally, they're starting to really branch out."
The band have two more EPs planned for this year: a second to be released in the summer, and a third in the winter. The reason for all the overflow of music? Floor Model was initially an LP that got trimmed down. “We have been working on a bunch of other songs while Floor Model was being made," Waggoner says.
McCoy attributes their drive to put out music and keep playing shows to the support they've received at DIY events like the one earlier this month. "When you see your friends in the audience grooving and singing along, getting people to open up a pit or asking if we're gonna play a certain song, it makes everything less nerve-wracking and it just feels like playing at home," he says. "We love this Dallas DIY scene. It's like family.”
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