There’s definitely a difference between seeing a concert during the week and one on a weekend. When I walked into Venue, the nightclub/concert venue in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown, I was struck by the difference between this and the recent Kimbra concert on Tuesday. The crowd for Dragonette was packed into the sweaty Venue space and there was a distinctly meat market vibe as wolf packs of men scoped out the corresponding female packs in the crowd. People were also more dressed up as Venue would turn into a club post-concert and the carpeted floor was already disturbingly spongy from spilled drinks.
Seeing as how Dragonette is an electro-pop band, I was excited for some energetic beats. Having met the band earlier for an interview, I found them to be laid back but their stage personas were quite opposite. Without much fanfare, the trio bounded onto stage and straight into an energizing rendition of their hit I Get Around. Straight after that came two new singles from their new album Bodyparts: Riot, a radio-friendly pop anthem and Live in This City, a more pop rock tinged number.
As each song blitzed past, the band encouraged the crowd to get more pumped and sweaty. Right Woman and Pickup the Phone segued into crowd favourites, Fire in Your New Shoes and My Legs, but things really got crazy when Hello and Let it Go came on. Even lonesome me, there just to review and enjoy, got swept up and I found myself bobbing and jumping around like everyone else. Surrounded by the crowd and with the band mere meters away, Venue was the perfect, er, venue, for getting your dance on.
Vocalist Martina’s breathy high-pitched voice gave the perfect poppy contrast to the booming beats put out by percussionist Joel and synth player Dan. What struck me as unique about Dragonette is that they’re definitely electro, but they perform like a rock band. There was no fancy stage setup or costumes – Martina wore a simple silk-screened tank and leather pants – and the band even busted out guitars for some of their rockier numbers. The only things I found lacking about the night was that although the band’s performance was studio perfect, it also felt too much like a recording, without the organic spontaneity that make live sets special. Particularly when the band did Hello, I felt that Martina didn’t give as much back as the audience was giving her. To be fair though, maybe she is sick of the ubiquity of Hello, so I kinda understand if she was more enthusiastic over the new stuff. Luckily, it was obvious that the audience were big Dragonette fans, as they sang and cheered equally to every song and that helped perk things up when the band faltered.
Finally, things closed things off with a stellar version of Rocket Ship before Dragonette bounded off the stage as quickly as they came. Everyone knew there would be something more coming, but in a nice touch, only Martina came back to give a heartfelt a capella version of an unreleased song called Cuckoo. Sung sugary-sweet by Martina, Cuckoo is a tune about a woman getting ready for her lover and had a retro vibe totally different from the rest of night that was really the cherry on top for me.
Dragonette will be continuing their Body Parts cross-Canada tour with their next show on Oct. 2 in Kamploops. Check out their site for all the tour dates.