Swedish electronic group Little Dragon brought their album tour through St. Louis this last Sunday night. Their latest album Season High was released mid-April, coming just two months after they released their title single “High”. If you aren’t familiar with Little Dragon, you still may have heard one of their tracks before. Members of Little Dragon have appeared on Gorillaz’ “Empire Ants” and tracks by artists like Odesza and Killer Mike. Accompanying them on the spring 2017 tour are rapper Goldlink and DJ ABJO.
ABJO was an early opener for the tour kicking off his set 30 minutes after doors. ABJO is a part of the collective Soulection, an LA based movement that boasts being a “global moving platform”. The aim of Soulection is to help fight the passive consumption of music and place more value on the community aspects of music and art. As an artist, ABJO focuses more on beat making and mixing despite the fact that Sunday’s performance was mainly a mix of billboard tracks. The early comers were treated to a mega-mix of popular rap and hip hop tracks that hyped up the crowd for the upcoming acts and ended with more of an EDM influence. His album tracks are much more ambient and often maintain tropical influences. The further you get into his studio tracks the easier it is to see how ABJO could be categorized within the same realm as Little Dragon.
While it would be nice to hear some live production of original tracks, his sense for rhythm and ability to seamlessly blend were definitely demonstrated throughout. Sampled in the mix were tracks by Beyoncé, Amine, and even “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar which has recently exploded onto the scene. Fans were singing along to the lyrics and responding to his energy throughout his set. You can find more from ABJO on his soundcloud here.
Next up was Washington DC born rapper Goldlink, who is also fresh off a release with his first full length studio album on RCA Records, “At What Cost”. After the success of his debut mixtape The God Complex, which garnered attention from major outlets like Fader and Complex, his new album was highly awaited. Despite it just being released earlier this April, it has already caught the attention from Pitchfork with them praising, “GoldLink digs deeper into his city’s musical history, pushing the elastic rhythms of go-go and funk to the fore while keeping a foot firmly planted in the current moment.”
Goldlink is in the same vein as artists like Kendrick Lamar and Wale who appears alongside him on the track “Summatime”. Similar to Lamar, Goldlink is more than just a rap artist. Everything he produces is held to a level of artistry that is uniquely his own. His sound ranges from R&B heavy dance tracks to lyrical and fast paced tracks that fall in line more with traditional Hip Hop. Rather than a lot of rap artists who take the stage with a full and in your face personality, Goldlink is cooler than cool, and harbors the chill atmosphere that his music maintains. Check out all four of his full length releases, available via Spotify here.
By the time Little Dragon was up the audience was fully hyped from the openers. First to take the stage was Erik Bodin (Drums), Håkan Wirenstand (Keyboard), and Fredrik Wallin (Bass Guitar). The men were clad in black suits with designs created from el wire displayed across the front, which stood out under the deep red stage lights. Part of the thrill of seeing Little Dragon is the level of theatrics that come along with their music. Their instruments and stands all had a holographic finish, showing just how much attention they pay to the details. Soon after they stepped on stage, the sounds of synth filled the room, building off the energy of the crowd.
At the center of all things theatrical in the group is Yukimi Nagano (Vocals/Percussion), who creeped on stage cloaked in orange tulle soon after. Once she removed her veil, a large ruffled blue coat was revealed that moved and swayed along with her every movement. The singer songwriter was born in Sweden and attended high school with the other members in Little Dragon. She also has collaborated with Nu Jazz duo Koop on multiple songs. As a well-rounded artist, she not only delivers an impeccable musical performance, but dances with fully and intricately with her entire body, becoming one with the music.
Little Dragon featured a range of their songs but primarily played tracks from their latest album Season High. Despite the new album being so recently being released, the crowd was already familiar with the music. Their heavily retro dance tracks kept the crowd going. One of the most dynamic moments from the set was when they performed recent single from the album, “Sweet”. A music video for the track was released at the start of March, making it the second single off the album. “Sweet” has the most parallels to their older albums, featuring a heavy 80’s synth influence and sultry ear-worm vocals by Nagano. Midway through show fans were already pushing into the aisles to give themselves room to get down.
Nagano’s outfits evolve throughout the night, ending up in an over-sized dress completely covered in tangles of El Wire to finally match the rest. One of the most captivating parts of the performance is when Nagano utilizes the instrumental breakdowns to dance within tangles of tulle, sweeping them in the air as she moves around the stage. Her green wires dreamily glowed underneath the bright swathes of fabric. There is something very primitive about the way she moves, with a wide stance and open palms swaying back and forth. While often she performs as a front-woman, she doesn’t forget to sometimes duck behind Wallin’s equipment to get the attention off herself and back on the other members. Her entire stage presence is extremely humbling and approachable.
To end their multi-song encore, Little Dragon performed “Twice”, their number one Spotify track. The dancehall vibe quickly fell leading into a very dramatic and visceral performance of the track. Nagano’s soft and haunting vocals echoed throughout the room balanced by the soft and repetitive keys that create the melody. Not only was the song a crowd favorite, but it was the perfect token to bid farewell. You can find their studio albums on Spotify and their new album is available for purchase here.
More photos from the show: