With Lawrence Rothman
Grand Central, Miami
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Better Than: Watching the Miami Heat lose ... Sob.
On a night when parking was hard to come by (as a few blocks away an NBA Finals game was being played), a sold-out crowd still managed to pack downtown Miami's Grand Central for a performance by Little Dragon.
Though there was a television on the outdoor patio tuned to the Heat vs. Spurs and the bathroom attendant was constantly asking for updates on the score, most of the crowd members' attention was not on their phones or a basketball game taking place down the street. Rather, their eyes were focused on the stage in front of them.
After all, the night's headliner had traveled very far to put on this show
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Little Dragon hails from Gothenburg, Sweden. Four albums into the band's career, the foursome is quite comfortable skipping between genres, from the realm of sunshiny pop reminiscent of Gwen Stefani to dark, moody synth stuff as icy as a Scandinavian winter.
Opening act Lawrence Rothman did the headliners no favors. His half-hour set was marred by poor sound quality. Joined on the stage by a lady backup singer, a keyboardist, and a drummer, he was gracious in mentioning several times how grateful he was to be playing in Miami, but his attempts to take us into the 1980s with blue-eyed soul was a bore.
At 10 p.m., though, cheers began. Standing in the darkened room amid cigarette smoke, the audience heard a mellow synthesizer loop. One by one, the Little Dragon bandmates walked out.
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Håkan Wirenstrand and his formidable Viking beard took to the keyboards, followed by Erik Bodin who stood as he drummed. Of course, the most enthusiastic crowd noise erupted for singer Yukimi Nagano, who immediately went into the first verse of "Mirror," the opening track off new album, Nabuma Rubberband. And finally came bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin.
After the song, Nagano asked, "Miami, how do you feel?" and then revealed how she felt, "It's good to be back," before going into an upbeat rendition of "Please Turn," followed by "My Step," which began with an electro-disco beat before getting as rock 'n' roll as a band can possibly be without a guitar.
Neon lights adorned the wall behind the band, changing color depending on the mood of the song. There were dark blues when the tune was melancholy and bright rainbow assortments when the songs grew peppier.
For "Klapp Klapp," the crowd clapped along, just as the song demands while Nagano ran around the stage, banging sleigh bells strung around her sleeveless arms. She humbly thanked the fans several times for their enthusiasm, even though during some of the band's quieter songs, like "Cat Rider," the chitchat of the full room was louder than the music.
Nevertheless, for the majority of Little Dragon's 18-song set, the audience members were in a trance, bobbing their heads. They were on the verge of dancing to the Atari-like beats of "Shuffle a Dream" before finally cutting loose with main-set closer, "If You Return," which tiptoed as close to the line of Eurotrash techno as good taste would allow before settling into the raucousness of banging metal trash can lids together.
The encore ended at 11:30, just about the same time as the American Airlines Arena emptied. By the level of disappointment on the face of any person lining the sidewalk, you could easily see who had spent the night with Little Dragon and who'd been at the Heat game.
Little Dragon's Setlist:
-"After the Rain"
-"Shuffle a Dream"
-"If You Return"
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