“It’s hella hard to take a photo of her, because she just moves all the time,” a random stranger murmurs over my shoulder in response to another failed attempt at taking a clear picture of Little Dragon‘s frontwoman, Yukimi Nagano. As the four-piece’s pocket-sized dynamo pads around in sparkly silver shoes that look like they’d be perfect for jazz ballet, I concede defeat and put my camera away. Nagano’s a kabuki marionette puppet throwing tai chi-meets-the robot shapes. She’s shaking the life right out of a tambourine that looks like a tennis racket. She’s singing clearly and perfectly in pitch. She’s wonderfully cute and completely mesmerizing.
The Swedish band comprised of longtime friends Yukimi, Erik, Fred and Hakan is onstage jamming its off-kilter pop songs out into extended versions in front of an enraptured audience. There is some vigorous vogueing for two going on (aka contact vogueing aka sexy dancing) down in front, and Hakan looks down from his keyboards (note the plural) with a bemused smile. This is the kind of behavior that Little Dragon’s catchy yet layered music attracts from its fiercely loyal grassroots fanbase, a collective whose membership includes Damon Albarn (the band just came off a tour with the Gorillaz) and Bobby Womack.
Prior to this we’d been regaled by the NYC bravado of Theophilus London, who presented himself as a one-man band sort of affair. His sunglasses at night/four cacti/west Texas/I think I saw a lasso on there shirt (or was it a jacket?) flair seemed to contrast quite drastically against Little Dragon’s unassuming approach to performing. Right now no one onstage was really talking that much, and instead the four were focusing on the matter at hand with a sense of playful concentration. Earlier on on the evening Theophilus handed out Theophilus London posters to ‘deserving fans’ who knew the words to his songs. Little Dragon didn’t have anything to give away, but the fans sang anyway. Nearly almost every single word.