Last Saturday, I decided to stretch my legs and take a quick jaunt to the fair city of Vancouver, and I was fortunate enough to be there at the same time as the Swedish quartet known as Little Dragon was playing at the Malkin Bowl. I always enjoy seeing what kinds of venues exist in different cities and seeing shows in new places. A brand new environment can make for an entirely different experience, and the Malkin Bowl is no exception. Nestled in the giant redwoods of Stanley Park, the Malkin Bowl is an absolutely gorgeous place to see an outdoor show. The venue was the first item of the evening to catch my attention, but it certainly wasn’t the last.
The show began in the late afternoon with a few lackluster, passive DJs. There really isn’t anything to talk about there, so I’ll just skip right along to the main event: Little Dragon. My familiarity with Little Dragon is limited to only having heard a few songs, but the small group of fans that attended were eagerly anticipating what was to come. Little Dragon came out and delivered a fun and powerful evening of indie pop that had the crowd dancing up a dust storm. A driving and heavy rhythm had Erik Bodin’s drumming as its backbone. The rest of the harmonic backing was left up to Hakan Wirenstrand’s melodic synthesizers and Fredrik Kallgren Wallin’s effect-soaked bass. While this trio provided a solid background, and are responsible for the defining electronic quality of Little Dragon, they did nothing to put themselves at the forefront of the music, leaving plenty of space for Yukimi Nagano’s voice.
Yukimi Nagano is clearly the member of Little Dragon that sets them apart from the plethora of electro-pop bands. While the other three members of the band were laying down the atmosphere, she was the one drawing the attention of every member of that crowd. Her vocal melodies are captivating. Her range gives her a critical versatility. Her ability to go from low and sultry to clear, piercing, powerful peaks allowed her to escalate the dynamic nature of live music. There was, however, one large problem with this show. Nagano’s voice was too low in the mix. Unfortunately, during most
instances in which she was singing in a lower register and with lower volume, she could barely be heard over the rest of the band. This was a serious issue for a band that relies on the vocalist to carry their performance. Still, she was not completely lost and the show was rather enjoyable regardless.
Watching Little Dragon in a beautiful forest through the transition of day to night was quite a way to experience a band that I was largely unfamiliar with, and one I won’t forget anytime soon.