by Holli Stephens
Monday night at Union Transfer made me question everything that I believed to be true about the Swedish band Little Dragon in the best way possible. A night class kept me from catching opener Shy Girls’ performance but I got to Spring Garden during the transition time and found my comfortable usual spot right next to the sound booth.
I always spend a good portion of the time before the main act comes on looking at the crowd. This was one that I truly admired. Besides its diversity, there were a broad range of ages and judging from the various conversations I overheard, they were musically cultured as well.
At around 9:40pm the stage began to do its familiar “the show is starting” dimming of lights and keyboardist Håkan Wirenstrand took his spot on stage. Drummer Erik Bodin found his spot on his kit that was raised and placed in the middle of the stage as Fredrik Källgren Wallin joined them on synth and bass. Dressed in a feathery white puffy skirt and a bright metallic sequined shirt, Yukimi Nagano was the last to ascend the stage with a tambourine in hand.
“Mirror” started off with Nagano’s naked but powerful vocals as a slow progression of instruments began to back her up and lead into a full sounding chorus. Nagano was very vocal during the set and put the crowd into a mutual state of bliss by asking them things like “How do you feel?” and “We love you guys. Thank you for letting us feel at home.”
Before playing “Crystalfilm”, Nagano asked everyone if they wanted to hear a love song which was met by scrams of approval. The song was a clash of voice looping harmonies accompanied by synthesized claps and a catchy drum beat. She then announced that they were going to play a song that they haven’t done in a while. As the introduction to “Passion” began the crowd got even wilder with excitement. After “Pretty Girls” all instrumentation stopped except for Bodin on drums who began to transition into a different drum beat. Further into his development Wirenstrand and Wallin joined in and dropped a very heavy techno influenced introduction to “Shuffle a Dream”.
Nagano was overwhelmed by the audience’s reaction to her music and then said “We thought we’d play one of the first songs we ever wrote. Is that okay?” A xylophone introduction dropped into a funky drum beat and the synth added to the medley of sound. The reaction of “Test” of the audience was clapping along to the beat. As the song ended all members of Little Dragon did a harmonization that steadily went down in intervals and decrescendoed into nothing.
Every song seemed to be a crowd favorite but when the introduction for “Ritual Union” came on, a faint echo of audience members singing the chorus could be heard. Little Dragon doesn’t just play a song from one of their four albums live. They play a live version. A song that might be 3 minutes long on their actual album would turn into a 7 minute jam between the bandmates.
The audience wasn’t going to leave Union Transfer until they got an encore so Little Dragon came out and gave them three more songs that included “Nabuna Rubberband”, “After the Rain”, and finally “Twice”. I’d have to say one of my favorite moments of the night was when Nagano was singing the chorus for the first time that went “Was it the blue night gone fragile?” and blue light cast silhouettes of everyone on stage. It was almost like a dream.