thu 01/10/2020

Little Dragon, The Boiler Room at Corsica Studios | reviews, news & interviews

Little Dragon, The Boiler Room at Corsica Studios

Little Dragon, The Boiler Room at Corsica Studios

Gothenberg quartet melt away clichés of Scandi cool

“It's like an advert for American Apparel,” said my companion a song into the set – and she had a point. The elegantly poised electropop of Little Dragon is so sharp, so cool, so impeccably internationalist in its outlook and presentation that, taken in small doses, it would be perfect for any brand targeted at affluent hipsters. But while their antics on stage, and especially those of singer Yukimi Nagano were admittedly a brand manager's dream at any given moment, over time they proved to be something much more interesting.

'Pleasingly for a crowd so dressed up, they appeared extremely engaged with the music'

 

They were there for an early-evening Boiler Room session; this online TV show began literally as a bedroom broadcast putting out DJ sets live but has rapidly been expanding to cover festivals and other events, and the fact that a band of LD's popularity would stop in to play is a mark of how far it has come in just 15 months of existence.
Little_Dragon_twoThe invited audience for the session were young and funkily dressed – however, pleasingly for a crowd so dressed up, they appeared extremely engaged with the music. Despite an organisational delay, as soon as Boiler Room founder Thristian bPm [sic] introduced the band, attention was focused forwards and there was very little of the chattering and mobile-phone interaction that one might expect from so many hipsters.
The backing trio of Erik Bodin on drums with Fredrik Källgren Wallin and the extraordinarily impressively bearded Håkan Wirenstrand both on keyboards and other devices took the stage first. All looked quite nerdy and, Wirenstrand's beard aside, not particularly rock'n'roll. However, as anyone who has ever drunk with Swedes could testify, looks can be deceptive, and the intensity with which they applied themselves to the groove of “Nightlight” bordered on the maniacal.
'As anyone who has ever drunk with Swedes could testify, looks can be deceptive'
 
Here, we discovered, was a good part of LD's magic. Attention is normally very much focused on Nagano, and for sure when she came on stage, all bold zig-zag tights, miniskirt and sailor tattoos, her charisma, voice and directional dance moves were compelling. But this close and able to see what each member was doing, it became very clear what an intense and fantastically locked-together musical unit the quartet are.
Little_DragonOn record LD can seem a little retro, full of hints of New Order and Eurythmics, but live their innovatory tendencies really became apparent. There was a “liveness” to the way they extended and jammed each song that clearly comes from relentless gigging, but that even a few years ago would have likely been more difficult, tied to the rigid patterns of sequencers or backing tapes.
Ironically, though, this liveness actually gave their performance more of the feel of electronic dance music than their recordings, as the extended jams, with Nagano joining in on cowbells and electronic percussion pads, really brought out the heft and hypnotic instrumental interplay of their rhythms. Especially on tracks like the slow “Feather” and the hugely spacious “Precious”, their use of space and echo was also impeccable, really proving that they could bring the techniques of the dance producer into the live set.
It was a near faultless set, each song brought to life in new ways, the elegant sensuality of the recordings turned far hotter and more stirring. The early hour of the evening, and perhaps self-consciousness from being filmed, meant the audience didn't dance as much as the set demanded – but nonetheless the excitement at getting the full intensity of this set in such intimate surroundings was palpable. Behind the groovy presentation is a proper band operating at the height of their powers, and deserving of all the hype that is coming their way.

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