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« Review: The Concretes & Seapony @ Schubas, 1/15 Lauryn Hill @ House Of Blues, 1/20 »

Concert Mon Jan 17 2011

Photos/Review: Little Dragon, Alex Winston, & Billy Goat@Lincoln Hall 1/16/11


It's always a tiring yet exhilarating experience to attend the Tomorrow Never Knows Festival and this year, spread across the three venues of Schubas Tavern, Lincoln Hall, and Cabaret Metro, it became much larger than ever before. That said, it was impossible to get to every band but the shuttle between venues did prove reliable for those who wanted to try to see as much music as humanly possible.

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It would probably be impossible to top the performance put on by Besnard Lakes headlining LIncoln Hall on 1/13/11 (Thursday night) but Little Dragon presents a style of music that is quite different than Besnard Lakes anyhow. Lead singer Yukimi Nagano is a unique mix of Japanese and Swedish but there was more of an Asian feel to many of the songs-think traditionalism put into a remix. In some ways, her outfit said it all with the way the white sequined top hung over a pair of black spandex. She looks like she could be the queen of a Karaoke bar.

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Most of the time, Nagano was unencumbered by musical instruments, though she did join her bandmates in drumming at one point. The songs are firmly based in pop and there's a keen 80s throwback sound to the way some of the tracks develop with a thundering drumming. These tracks are extended much longer than most pop songs, however, and seem to encourage a sort of club dancing appeal.

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Her three piece backing band was probably the tightest aspect musically with synth keyboard, guitar, and drums but Nagano's voice worked really well in the mix. She's a curious sort of performer for someone who fronts pop songs in a way because of her sometimes quite cautious looks. However, it's clear that she relishes in being a star as she steals the spotlight visually. LIttle Dragon played for well over an hour to complete the festival and the closure made it feel more like a Saturday than a Sunday.

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Alex Winston also demonstrated a strong feminine pop presence and the best part about her set was watching her enjoy herself as she danced around and sang. (She played guitar in one track as well). While her backing band played bass guitar and drums, she remained up front with a chorus of three female singers who she had a great stage chemistry with. Winston was filled with mirth as she ran up to the tip of the stage, fell on her knees, and flung her hair about. Though her pop songs are not strikingly unique, they do have a ubiquitous sort of appeal and Winston had an amicable energy and charisma for a pop star that seemed to go over well with much of the crowd.

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Billy Goat proved to be the most exceptional of the night, however. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the band consisted of a three piece that played a whole range of instruments including harp, keyboard, drums, and recorder to create cinematic textured layers. However, the most impressive aspect of their performance was the fact that they create their own animations which varied in themes with constellations made of people, Alice in Wonderland in space, and the loneliness of a girl who finds a man-dog to reveal he is really just a boy inside. I suppose one needs to witness this type of thing to understand how truly impressive it is so don't miss this band if they come to your town. (They are currently on tour with Little Dragon)

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Read all our Tomorrow Never Knows coverage.

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Michelle / January 18, 2011 11:27 AM

Super bummed I had to miss it! Looks like it was a great show.

olen / January 18, 2011 2:31 PM

did anyone elee think the sound engineering for little dragon sucked and she was uncharacteristailly low-key? I hate to say it because i love them, but i was bored.

Jake / January 18, 2011 3:21 PM

I agree, she seemed like she may be under the weather. Thought I hadn't seen them before, my friend said she was more energetic last year.

I still thought they were great though. The fact that the band appears to play all the electronic sequences (aside from a few loops) live on keys and drums is really impressive. They're super-tight.

I take issue with this reviewer's take on Nagano's singing style. Though it may mix Japanese and Swedish, what I notice most is American styles like jazz and soul. It was interesting to hear that when she spoke her accent was more-or-less American too.

Also, I think the only guitar in the lineup was an electric bass.

I look forward to checking them out again next time.

cilla / April 24, 2014 5:08 PM

They suck

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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