Photo Credit: Ryan Muir for NPR via allsongs
Little Dragon has got it all. A soulful female singer, whose vocals brim with feeling but are smooth, tempered and quite singable by an average Joe. Modern electro sounds with percussion that never fails to captivate (but so far removed from four-to-the-floor high BPM). Keyboards and beats mix with vocals to create a sound that is funky and seductive. Melodic and heavily layered, often perking up your ears with jarring dissonance, clearly the result of the bands’ playing together since school. Oh, and they have a quirky yet chic fashion senses!
After missing Little Dragon a couple times in the past fall (they even played at the Mulberry store near my house) I was so psyched to see them at Prospect Park Bandshell for the final free show of BRICarts’s Celebrate Brooklyn concert series. Me and thousands of other people. This year I also saw Laura Marling and Wild Flag for free shows, and this one was by far the most packed, even as I arrived fairly early.
Luckily I got chairs in the front seating area next two a group of passionate and ahem, flamboyant guys. The openers Frankie Rose and DJs Voices of Black warmed the crowd up fairly pleasantly as I noshed on some garlic fries. When the show started I was surprised at how many people were standing for this free show (and a very diverse crowd of all ages), but what can I say, Little Dragon was the most exciting of them all, hand’s down. I stood on my chair the whole time. I didn’t actually get to see a lot of the band members since I was in the back, but the show was still nothing short of AMAZING!
Yukimi Nagano was visibly having a ball up there, dancing around shaking a kind of tambourine. Adorably she squeals “Thank you!” after every song. Her vocals sound just as good or better than they do on record, more than I can say for a lot of other singers (lookin at you Grimes), and she’s so passionate. We were all singing along, especially the guy next to me who kept screaming OH MY GODDDD and I LOVE THIS SONG at the beginning of every song, as if he couldn’t believe they would actually play any songs at all. Everyone danced too, including all of us on the 2000 chairs and most of the 5000 person lawn area.
They played most of Ritual Union and a couple of their other classics. They riffed and remixed into every song, with some of them extended for climactic dance breaks, and transitioned fairly seamlessly, usually with just subtle musical hints of what song they were about to play in the intros. We were all ecstatic to hear the soulful “Ritual Union” and jumpy “Shuffle a Dream”. I got so excited when they ended with the weirdest song of that album, “Nightlight”, which begins with this bizarre solo of accidentals. I was kind of sad that I hadn’t heard my two favorite Little Dragon songs, “Crystalfilm” and “Feather” but woohoo! Encore! “Crystalfilm” is perfect encore music as it is minor and subdued, creating a soothing breather moment. Their version of “Feather” was musically daring – they started in the original key and jumped up a step for each chorus, and Yukimi didn’t flinch.
They closed off the night with “Twice”. Hearing the piano ringing throughout the park brought tears to my eyes. I have never cried at a live show, but Little Dragon, you did it!