MusicfestNW 2011, Thursday: Little Dragon

photo by William Anthony

Little Dragon is a quartet based out of Sweden comprised of vocalist Yukimi Nagano, Hakan Wirenstrand on keys, bassist Fredrik Kallgren Wallin and drummer Erik Bodin. In late July 2011, Little Dragon released their third studio album to largely positive critical acclaim, including a peak Billboard chart position of 78 (#4 in the dance/electronic category.) Little Dragon’s music is full of enticing dance-able beats, catchy synth hooks and smooth, flowing vocals. In addition to this project, Nagano has worked with several other reputable artists, including Stateless, Maximum Balloon, the most recent Gorillaz album, and SBTRKT.

Their short set (at 10:30am!!) to kick of MusicFest NW 2011 began with the first two tracks off of the new album, the immediately accessible and contagiously catchy first single, “Ritual Union,” and the upbeat dance track “Little Man.” Nagano, in a much more intimate and small venue than their Bumbershoot set a couple days ago, let her natural ability as a performer shine — she displayed her beautiful smile, unique dancing and voice that is decidedly soulful. They opted for a more minimal setup for this live broadcast, foregoing a full drum kit for a drum machine and a mini keyboard rather than the full key set they used at Bumbershoot. Several of the songs in the set were built methodically with interesting drum machine beats that were then layered with exploratory (at times improvised, it sounded) synth and keys. This, on top of the brilliant acoustics at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge, made for a delicious first set in a long weekend of music that is bound to be magical.

photos by Brittney Bush Bollay

photos by Brittney Bollay

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