By Jonathan Rosado
The people running Celebrate Brooklyn's electro-dance extravaganza on Friday had one thing to say to the potential rainstorm that threatened their festivities: bring it on. By the time I arrived at the bandshell, New Jersey duo Voices of Black were already on stage and hard at work. Jules Born and Baba Ali served as the intro/intermission music before Brooklyn-bred Frankie Rose and Swedish electrofunk outfit Little Dragon.
Their music wasn't as loud as it could have been, presumably because of their status as fillers, however they were stellar all the same. Their music was the kind that you don't necessarily pay attention to at first, but while your mind was occupied with other trivialities, their sprawling melodies and driving rhythms snuck into your ears and exerted their will. Within minutes of taking my place in the audience, they had my toe tapping furiously, and my head bobbing to the point of whiplash. A quick survey of the people around me showed that wasn't the only one that had succumbed to their musical hypnotism.
Frankie Rose, promoting their new album Interstellar, soon took the stage. As they set up, a long warbling tone shook the humidity in the air. As a resident of Williamsburg, Frankie Rose engaged the predominantly Brooklynite-filled crowd with references to their home borough, drawing whoops and cheers from all over. Their set had driving songs that floated over the crowd, making sound waves crash over the ears of everyone present.
The eponymous singer and frontwoman, sang with an interesting mix of subtlety and fervor, crooning lowly at some points and then exploding with lofty bravado. Her band harmonized with her fantastically, creating a booming vocal aria, a single voice that encompassed everything. Their sound was reminiscent of '80s electro-dance artists such as Ah Ha and The Human League, repurposed with a slightly more contemporary feel. Some songs sounded right out of The Breakfast Club soundtrack, which added a vintage sound that fit Frankie Rose well.
After another short set by Voices of Black, Little Dragon came out to a crowd wild with anticipation. What the crowd got for their wait was something like a close encounter of the fourth kind. It were as though the band had benevolently come down from the stars to grace us with sounds from another world. From the first song on, there was an omnipresent electronic aura that emitted from the stage; many of their songs had heavy synth that hit you in your bones and forced you move your body. Their infectious melodies and beats were reinforced by the enamoring voice of singer Yukimi Nagano. Her soulful, magnetic singing was accented by her energy on stage. She bounced around the entire set, emphatically shaking her tambourine almost non-stop.
Their set flowed gracefully, seemingly without pause between songs. They seamlessly switched between sounds from various genres—from ethnic, to latin, to pop, and more. There was nary a moment where I didn't catch myself moving to their beats as though I weren't in control, and more than a few people in the crowd were gesticulating to the music as if they were possessed by sound. By the end of their set, even the people leaving for the night couldn't help but dance with each step.
Little Dragon came to Prospect Park and took the audience on a cosmic trip through their own musical soundscapes. They left the stage to a buzz of energy that surely pumped up those going for a late night out on the town.