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Exposing the Naked and Famous



    Calling your band the Naked and Famous might end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy (aside from the naked part; but I'm sure they go hand in hand). That is, if you happen to be one of New Zealand's hottest exports, an electrified choral pop band that exploded this year with their debut Passive Me, Aggressive You.

    The irony is that there is nothing passive about this band. Finding themselves on a global touring circuit, playing at nearly every major music festival and appearing as the regular on the soundtracks of shows like Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries -- the band has certainly worked for its hype. 

    The Naked and Famous first appeared on the blogosphere with their youth anthem "Young Blood," which features generally reckless teenagers, diving into oceans, night riding and running through fields. It's the kind of utopia poised for a Levi's campaign. It has this incredible build that makes you feel empowered and has you singing, "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" They proved they weren't just one-hit-wonders by putting out a similar anthem jam called "Punching a Dream." I suppose vital young people don't just have dreams, they punch them! They seem to be armed with a limitless amount of adolescent angst and hope that comes out in synthesizers, beats, "whoa, whoa's" and "yeah, yeah's." That kind of spirit worked well for the band when I saw them play at Lollapalooza in front of thousands of kids jumping up and down in sequence. I imagine their show at Belly Up on Oct. 16. will look similar. 

    Joining them at the Belly Up are L.A.'s White Arrows -- more of a psychedelic pop act, but with just enough synthy weirdness to be the perfect warmer for the Naked and Famous. White Arrow's frontman, Mickey Schiff, has an infectious whine, in the best possible way. He's got an impossible coolness, often sporting a vintage Hawaiian T-shirt and baseball cap -- think: Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill, but with a little bit of Southern twang. You can hear it in songs like "Get Gone" or their popular Springsteen cover of "I'm on Fire" that sounds like the Boss was put through an arcade game. 

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    I'd be careful not to write off White Arrows as just another electro-pop opener. They seem to be on the rise and are credited for putting on some really killer shows that involve a cacophony of lights and projected slides of psychedelic swirls. It's not only visually stunning but complements the music beautifully. White Arrows pays attention to instrumentation as well, with so many layers, they set  the tone for a plush tropical soundscape, and they do so by surrounding beats with guitars, keyboards and maracas. Hope you're one of the lucky few to snag your tickets to this sold-out Belly Up show -- with support from the Chain Gang of 1974 -- on Oct. 16! 

    Nada Alic runs the San Diego-based music blog Friends With Both Arms.Follow her updates on Twitter or contact her directly.