UK indie pop trio London Grammar have been causing quite a stir lately, and the fact that they don’t even have a record out in the United States yet didn’t deter a single member of the full house they met Monday night at the Crocodile. Their debut LP, If You Wait, has soared towards the top of the charts in the UK and it’s easy to see why. While Dot Major sets the foundation from a drum set and keyboard and sampler station fill up most all of stage left, Dan Rothman adds guitar layering from the shadows on the right and Hannah Reid stands front and center, the captivating muse guiding the night forward. London Grammar mix the sample driven electronic wanderings of bands like Tycho to minimal indie R&B setting. The combination gives them a really unique sound among the fray – one that obviously has caught the attention of more than enough to pack the Crocodile tight. Together with Seattle’s own Jaymes Young, London Grammar blessed us with an excellent night of music, both melancholy and marvelous.
It was a fun homecoming for Jaymes Young, who has been touring with London Grammar in Europe as well. This month, he released his own new batch of material Dark Star. Young’s musical style blends blues, R&B, some electronic drums, and lots of guitar layering to make for a fresh offering on the Seattle scene. His closer “Two More Minutes” was an especially well received hit, bringing the drums to a full dance tempo. Young also gave us a fun blues cover of “What Is Love”, taking it in a radically different direction, while still giving the crowd something they know all too well how to sing. Young warmed the crowd up splendidly and found plenty of hometown love all over the Crocodile for his night back.
London Grammar’s set begins with nothing but professionalism. They start in on If You Wait opener “Hey Now” with pristine grace. Reid’s quiet presence silences the crowd’s murmuring after the first gorgeous lines and makes way for Rothman’s guitar lines and Major’s building MPC-style beats to fill the void. Like the xx, London Grammar love letting empty space be a useful instrument in their music. The pauses, the dynamics, the calm before the storm – this is what gives their tunes the life and breath that make them so emotionally enthralling. After Reid takes to the piano for the gorgeous, contemplative “Interlude”, she reaches down for a sip of water and smiles. “Alright, we are past the three song hump”. Of course, there is no hump there – they sound great and continue to sound great after. But once Reid shakes off opening jitters (understandably so, the place is packed to brim with excited fans), her gorgeous lines loosen up a bit and really have room to breathe.
With the heavier sound system, some of London Grammar’s tunes turn into full-fledged dance romps. The bass-heavy “Flicker” and even the darkly contemplative “Wasting My Young Years” sound divine in this setting where they fill the room with ease. The young trio’s stage presence seems mature despite their age, and the band plays to their own aesthetic really well. After steadily building up the crowd for a good 45 minutes, the band pulled out their wonderful cover of Kavinsky tune “Nightcall”. After exiting on their UK chart topping single “Metal & Dust”, the band re-entered to cover Chris Isaak classic “Wicked Game”. Altogether, the band’s Seattle venture was one well appreciated throughout the audience, and we cannot wait for their return.