Words by Sean Walsh
The desert and April are synonymous with a few things here in Southern California. It marks the beginning of summer days and the inevitable influx of party hungry animals that flock to Coachella each and every year. While that may be true, it also doesn’t mean it has to be your truth. There are places out here in this vast world that have not yet been traveled, and some that are a lot less likely traveled. While some of us age in our supreme ever-expanding journey on towards the progression that is; living our own lives; some of us choose not to do things the way everyone else does them. So while 90,000+ fans of partying, fervent drug use, and endless bass drops flock to the desert, we decided to hold back and drive back into the desert once everyone left for the weekend. We had a hunch that some of our favorite artists might play special gigs in the area, and that turned out to be true with the first announcement of Beck’s planned shows in Santa Barbara. But for us, the real highlight of the week for us came on Wednesday when we got to see Sweden’s own Little Dragon and supporting act The Internet, in the desert nowhere near the site of Coachella’s annual festival. That’s right…Instead we found ourselves in Pioneer Town‘s local watering hole Pappy and Harriet’s (which is excellent by the way).
It was a harrowing drive to say the least, but as the last fragments of Los Angeles proper’s traffic broke apart, we could feel the energy running beneath rubber of our tires. The night’s energy was quickly fueled by the vastness of the desert plains and surrounding mountains; strangely settling itself in and up for the night’s performance at hand. Two artists with two completely different types of soul, would wind up creating one of the more memorable performances I have seen in some time.
The Internet opened up the night at Pappy and Harriet‘s to a line of hungry concert-goers eager to get in line for the BBQ that was being cooked nearly 30 yards from the stage. However, my ears and eyes were heavily focused on Syd tha Kyd and the rest of the Internet, funkifying and caressing the calm night’s air with their blend of soulfully induced harmonicly-bluesy-jazz-RNB. Even though they have ties to Tyler the Creator and Odd Future, this project should not be taken lightly. They are an absolute powerhouse and would recommend them to almost anyone who is into the funkier, soulful, rhyhtmically-induced side of the hip-hop game. The Internet left the crowd with an undeniable sense of feeling well…good, after a few Jamariquai covers and ending jams from their newest release “Feel Good.” But Syd, who was extremely impressive, could also not wait for Little Dragon to take the stage herself, and as they exited, they quickly took the VIP front and center “benches” in the back to get a view of the dragon.
Little Dragon is one of the most prolifically professional and artistically sound musical acts touring right now. Luscious bass lines and keyboard synthetics paint the moonlight sky with a most beautiful flavor of ambiance; Thousands of stars are in view high-above the Pioneertown, CA, but all are coincidentally shining directly on front-woman Yukumi Nagano. Her delivery was spot on, as she usually is, but was considerably less frantic, and more tapped into an experimental ambiance that perfectly matched the night alike. They are becoming seasoned vets at this stuff, and with the highly anticipated “Nabauma Rubberband” due for release this coming May, the crowd could only hope that they would be treated to some new surprises. And we were.
Little Dragon roared through an impressive number of new tracks, which seem to highlight their more ambient sides, but then again it could have just been the setting as well to make them feel that way. I’m sure they may have sounded different if we were at an indoor venue, or if this was sometime during the middle of the day, but it wasn’t…and that’s the beauty of live performance and its special and rare wonderful occurrences that shatter boundaries and move people to liking those artists in the first place.
The gentle and inviting nature of the calm dark sky, welcomed Little Dragon’s energy in, as Yukumi dually noted that she was “feeling it” that night. In a trance like state, they continued back on to the stage for some invigorating encores, one in which included their new single”Klapp Klapp.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, there was something grandiose in the air, something freeing yet heavy about being in the desert with only a few hundred people all dancing under the same moon to a bunch of new tunes we can only hope that we enjoy. And to no surprise, the new tracks sounded excellent. Yukumi sounded excellent, and yet again I find myself convinced I will return to see Little Dragon in action at the next possible opportunity I get.
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