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Little Dragon: Tiny Desk Concert

The last time Swedish band Little Dragon performed for Tiny Desk, the group wasn't actually at the Desk. Like a number of Tiny Desk alum who played between 2020 and 2022, Little Dragon delivered its debut Tiny Desk as a (home) concert in the band's Gothenburg studio. That performance provided a comforting balm to many during the early and confusing months of the global pandemic. Finally hosting the quartet in our Washington, D.C. office was the ultimate goal, and in this in person Tiny Desk, Little Dragon delivers a performance awash with upbeat and optimistic melodies balanced by a grounded presentation.

Since the band's debut album in 2007, Little Dragon created a blend of R&B, soul, electronica and dance pop that pushes the boundaries of simplistic genre classification. The whimsical whistling of drummer Erik Bodin in "Tumbling Dice" is the perfect complement to singer Yukimi Nagano encouraging us to "make it worth every step as we go." The cosmic pop tones of "Ritual Union'' are stripped away here, and the driving beat in this slowed down rendition heightens the contemplative lyrics on marriage. "Gold," from the band's newest album Slugs of Love, is a standout in this set. The verses build to a funky, thumping bassline, courtesy of Bodin and bassist Fredrik Wallin, anchoring a chorus that interpolates the Whitney Houston tune "Million Dollar Bill."

Keyboardist Håkan Wirenstrand delivers flowing embellishments and solos on every track, particularly in the last song of the set, "Where You Belong," from 2020's New Me, Same Us. Nagano's honeyed vocals make the song simultaneously mournful and hopeful, as she touches her hand to her chest, reminding us our lost loved ones have "been there all along, right where you belong."

SET LIST

  • "Tumbling Dice"
  • "Ritual Union"
  • "Gold"
  • "Where You Belong"
  • MUSICIANS

  • Yukimi Nagano: vocals
  • Erik Bodin: drums, vocals
  • Fredrik Wallin: bass, vocals 
  • Håkan Wirenstrand: keys, vocals
  • TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Director/Editor: Joshua Bryant
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Videographers: Joshua Bryant, Maia Stern, Kara Frame, Sofia Seidel
  • Audio Assistant: Kwesi Lee
  • Production Assistant: Zayrha Rodriguez
  • Photographer: Michael Zamora
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Mitra I. Arthur
    As a WSIU donor, you don’t simply watch or listen to public media programs, you are a partner. By making a gift, you help WSIU produce, purchase, and broadcast programs you care about and enjoy – every day of the year.