Swedish electro-soul quartet Little Dragon played a special one-off show in promotion of their latest effort, Ritual Union, at The Roxy Monday night. The gig was one of two special engagements the band booked as release parties (the other in New York) and served as a kind of warm-up for their full-length tour, set for the end of summer into the fall.
It’s incredible to see just how far Little Dragon has come since the release of their self-titled debut album. Not only has their sound developed, their live show has sprouted into something beyond description. Front-woman Yukimi Nagano and her gang took to the stage shortly after nine-thirty, opening with “Looking Glass” off their sophomore release, Machine Dreams. Needless to say, it was an explosive introduction. Nagano raged on stage in a magenta spacesuit and beat the living daylights out of her cowbell. She led the band in a colorful march through their eighteen-track setlist, generating humming war chants from the crowd that complemented “Little Man” and “Summertearz” almost too perfectly.
The trick with Little Dragon’s live show is that you really don’t go to hear the same sounds you heard on the album. Instead, you go to hear how they feel like playing a particular song that night. Songs like “Swimming” and “My Step” became reworked beyond recognition and created an entirely new experience that was at once exciting and hypnotizing.
Nearly every song had an extended breakdown, which dragged out their set beyond two-hours and revealed a key detail about Little Dragon as an act: their music truly comes from somewhere organic, and the difference is visible. Yukimi danced like the beat was pulling at her limbs and wasn’t afraid to get in on the action with the audience. She fearlessly charged through the packed crowd, never once losing focus but having fun the entire time. Little Dragon exercises immense control over their sound, and watching them having an outright jam session on The Roxy’s stage was surely one of those you-had-to-be-there kind of moments.
Based on Monday’s performance, Little Dragon is skyrocketing to bigger things, and their third album is only a new step forward for them. Their sound is at its maturest yet, but it will no doubt continue to evolve, and that’s totally fine. They’re ensuring that the experience is as exciting for us as it is to them.
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