Concert Review: Little Dragon (10/15)
Written by Jeff Ramella on October 22, 2018
Review by Nate Williams
Rating: 10/10 Ritual Unions
It’s rare that I consider a musical performance perfect, I don’t even give myself that satisfaction after a well-received performance. So when I tell you that Swedish electronic band Little Dragon’s concert at Elsewhere Hall in Brooklyn was perfect beyond description, you know that I mean it.
Opening act April + Vista, a Washington D.C.-based R&B duo, blessed the stage first, with mattVISTA making live samples out of things like violin “pluckings” made by April George, the oh-so-talented lead singer. The songs they performed and the ones on their album, You Are Here, are inspired by the plight of haters, those who would like to see you fall or tell you that you aren’t good enough even though you know you are more than capable. The duo radiated confidence, musical prowess, and soulful energy, a perfect match for a band like Little Dragon.
Speaking of the main act, before I get to them, I want to let you in on a secret. To fully appreciate and enjoy your first time seeing Little Dragon in concert (at least in my experience, I listened to all of their albums back to back on the day of the performance. I had only listened to three songs they either made or were featured on before October 15th, but I adored their sound and lead singer Yukimi Nagano’s voice. Once I had finished educating myself, standing in line outside of Elsewhere, 26 minutes before the doors opened with a light drizzle beginning to come down, I was smitten. I couldn’t wait to see them. I was euphoric. I was in love. I even bought a shirt representative of Ritual Union, Little Dragon’s second album, as soon as I was inside, which I obviously wore proudly the very next day
But back to the review.
Little Dragon was greeted with deafening cheers and applause, and it only grew louder with the ending of each song. They played songs old and new, including Ritual Union, Klapp Klapp, My Step, Lover Chanting, and Twice, the first song on their first album and the last song of the night. What made the performance for me was the obvious chemistry between the members of the band. Well, part of what made it for me. I’ll explain.
One of the most important factors in a great band and an even better live show is actually liking the people you play with. Many times during the night, the group of 4 smiled at each other, signaled each other and understood completely, and talked to and about each other in between songs like they were friends. Even when it’s just in the studio, away from the eyes of the general public, it’s evident that they’ve enjoyed the time they’ve spent together making music, 22 years to be exact!
Going onto the individual band members, everyone felt like their own person. Lead singer Yukimi Nagano dressed up in a type of golden cloth robe I couldn’t do justice if I tried to describe it and stylish sunglasses that gave her an extra layer of “wow.” She felt every note she sung and every rhythm the band laid down, and she was a force to be reckoned with her hand tambourine. Keyboardist and programmer Håkan Wirenstrand came out in a simple-patterned outfit decorated with tiny ornaments that covered his shirt and pants, giving his entire ensemble an inexplicable pop. Fredrik Wallin, also a keyboardist and the band’s bass player, had on a button-down with a large picture stitched onto it. I’d tell you what it was a picture of, but I couldn’t make it out through the movement of the crowd, your humble reviewer isn’t as tall as he’d like to be. Last but certainly not least was Erik Bodin, one of the most energetic and entertaining drummers I’ve ever seen. He came out in a white graphic tee with an orange design that was hard to make out in the lights, but what was on it was overshadowed by what happened when all 4 of them were nearing the end of their set.
Between the extending of Klapp Klapp and Lover Chanting, I can’t decide which one was more awesome to watch live, especially when I could feel the beat in my eyelashes (I know that sounds oddly specific, but it happened). However, I can say for certain that the long break in the middle of Klapp Klapp, where Bodin climbed on top of the speaker he was sitting in front of to raise his drumsticks to the sky, riding out a note Wirenstrand was holding, then coming back down to continue playing the rest of the song, resuming with the most memorable cymbal hit you will ever see. This isn’t even mentioning the moment when Nagano came over to Wallin’s keyboard, learning the keys he was playing, then playing it for him, or when she came over to the drum set and took over the right side while Bodin continued playing on the left. We won’t even mention how undeniably cool that was, or how it cemented them in my mind as one of my top 10 favorite bands of all time. I’ll just say the performance was “pretty cool.”
In all seriousness, the Little Dragon concert was a truly fantastic experience, from the opening act all the way to the closing song. I would have given the concert 10/10 Klapp Klapps, but I’ll be the first to tell you that they got way more than that by the end of the night from me alone.