At its first of two sold-out shows at Hollywood’s Avalon, Little Dragon played for an hour straight sans setlist. Now bands play without setlists in front of them all the time, but it’s pretty hard for them to do so and sound as tight as Little Dragon did while still being as energetic and spontaneous as these Swedes were.
Girls in the front row were losing their voices from the volume with which they screamed lead singer Yukimi Nagano’s name as the band took the stage. She of course deserved the praise not only for her singing but for her nonstop, wild dancing, made easier when Nagano took off her shoes after the second song. Often throughout the set she’d dance at the band’s freakishly tall bass player, Fredrik Källgren, who tried to dance back at her. Even though Källgren’s height made him slightly less graceful, his attempts were so endearing that one couldn’t help but cheer for him. Nagano’s instruments were as much aesthetic parts of the set as they were parts of the songs. Her tambourine was teardrop shaped and had a small handle so that it became an extension of her body as she moved her limbs around the stage and backed up her booty in keyboardist Håkan Wirenstrand’s direction.
The star among the inanimate objects on the stage was Nagano’s electronic drum setup, which resembled a giant makeup kit. Each square was a different shade of blush or eye shadow that literally sparkled. At about 45 minutes into the band’s initial hour-and-10-minute set, drummer Erik Boden broke into an extensive solo during “My Step.” Nagano paused afterward to thank the audience before the band played a 10-minute version of “Precious.” Little Dragon of course came out for an encore, Nagano stating, “We feel like you guys have supported us from the beginning. We love L.A. We love you!” The band played “Little Man,” and then Nagano asked, “You guys wanna hear some more songs?” “Blinking Pigs,” followed, with Nagano jumping up to Boden’s drum kit, and the two played a five-minute-long drum duet. The set ended with the slow jam “Twice” as the crowd went old school, whipping out actual lighters and swaying.
The audience called for a second encore, despite it being after the scheduled 10:30 end time. When the venue put up the house lights, some people began to file out but over half the audience continued to applaud until finally Boden returned to the stage and said, “We can only do one if it’s super short.” The venue shut off the lights again as Boden scurried back to his drums. Nagano came out and coyly asked, “Do you promise to dance to this one?” The band played a 20-minute version of “Swimming,” for the majority of which Nagano didn’t sing but danced and high fived audience members. At about 11 the band took its final bows, and everyone filtered out.
All photos by Annie Lesser.