Real Live Action

Little Dragon

w/ Billygoat

Fortune Sound Club; January 12, 2011

Review By Chibwe Mweene

Despite being a snowy Tuesday night, the sheer turnout for Little Dragon’s show at Fortune Sound Club—one of my favourite venues in Vancouver—was impressive. The crowd ranged from drunken British twenty-somethings, to devoted fans of Little Dragon, to even local artists like the Polaris Prize nominated rapper, Shad. Regardless of one’s background, we were all packed in like sardines, waiting anxiously for the show to begin.

A hush carried over the crowd by the time Billygoat took the stage. The group managed to captivate the audience immediately with their electronic melodies, not to mention their stop-motion animations, which made the whole experience like none I’ve ever seen before. The best way to describe their artistic style would be a marriage of folk art and digital media. Their folk-electronic instrumentals are just as enigmatic as their animations, leaving plenty of the narrative to the audience’s imagination. Their hour-long set had accomplished its goal of captivating the audience while leaving them hungry for more.

The crowd rejoiced as Little Dragon took the stage. Some people where so excited they yelled out “ai shiteru!”, the Japanese phrase for “I love you!”, to leading lady Yukimi Nagano. Their devotion came as no surprise, as the singer’s performance took the show to a whole new level. The sight of her glow-in-the-dark, hot-pink nail polish and silver sparkling shoes, for instance, was enough to get the crowd frantically excited before the troupe even played a note.

Little Dragon’s sound is original without a doubt, but the way in which their pieces were played, re-edited, and extended from their recorded counterparts only made me appreciate them more. Their set list consisted mainly of songs from Machine Dreams, along with a few classics from their self-titled debut and some unreleased material from their forth-coming album, Ritual Union. The vocals were smooth, melodious and rich with soul without being stagnant. The drums were energetic and crisp, while the bass kept it all groovy and grounded.

The band’s musical talent was reinforced by the chemistry the members have with one another. Fredrik Källgren and Håkan Wirenstrand played their instruments with much focus and conviction, both possessing the mastery and discipline of skilled surgeons. Erik Bodin played his drums with so much enthusiasm that at times it felt as though he had multiple hearts pumping blood through his veins.

Inevitably, as the front woman, Nagano stole the show. Not because of her looks, or anything superficial, but because of how at home she was on stage. She made grand, symbolic gestures as she sang her lyrics. She danced with the music as though it were a spiritual entity. She played the drums alongside Bodin, adding her own percussive elements to Little Dragon’s tunes. It was like watching a Sufi perform her own brand of neo-soul music. She was queen of the stage that night at Fortune Sound Club, completely at one with her music.