By: Ben Norman
A concert is only as good as the personalities behind the performances. The singer, the band, their presence on stage, and their ability to work a crowd can change a venue from yawns and open seats to standing room only, and when the band is Dragonette, the cozy DC venue The Black Cat experienced just that. The Black Cat is one of DC’s forefront concert venues for its easy location and intimate atmosphere. As opposed the larger venues like the 9:30 Club or even the Verizon Center, The Black Cat is the type of venue that can literally put you five feet away from the band. And when it’s Dragonette, the closer the better, as lead singer Martina Sorbara is a pint-sized powerhouse.
But before we can discuss Dragonette, we have to start at the beginning. Opening for the band was the NYC duo The Knocks. While I wasn’t too familiar with them, plenty of people around me were and so it was easy to get into the energy. And there was definitely lots of energy. The duo are a house group that incorporate live and electric drums into their sets, fusing original material with mixed tracks from Stardust, The Killers, and even “Pon de Floor” by Major Lazer. The Knocks are worth checking out for anyone who isn’t familiar with them. A great place to start is their new track, “The Feeling,” a funk-flavored house jam with smooth vocals. They had the crowd cheering and jumping, adequately priming everyone for the main act.
So this tour is mainly to promote the release of their new album, Body Parts. So while the set list included many old favorites, Dragonette also dropped over half their album into their performance. The best thing about that? The crowd ate it up, cheering for new tracks with as much gusto and energy as for the known tracks. Opening their set with “I Get Around” started the show off right, satiating older fans’ desire to hear some of the music that created this buzz to begin with. And without even a pause, the band launched right into their first of many new tracks, the throbbing tongue-in-cheek track “Riot,” followed by their new single “Live In This City.” It’s easy to enjoy “Live In This City” in a place like DC; it certainly felt like they were singing about my city. They dropped the mood a bit to pull out their swanky ode to prostitution with “Black Limousine,” a favorite from their Galore album. Plowing right along, Dragonette introduced the hungry fans to the third track from Body Parts that evening, “Right Woman,” another swanky track with just the right amount of sleaze to it. From Fixin to Thrill, the trio worked a little “Time After Time” cover into their track “Pick Up The Phone,” and if anyone wasn’t singing by this point… well, that definitely changed. With a nod to Kaskade, the next track was “Fire In Your New Shoes,” a track that already packs a punch, but really brought the house down live. Another new track, “My Legs,” carried us over into “Easy” from Fixin to Thrill, before dropping back into Body Parts with “Run Run Run.”. This group never missed a step, mixing in old tracks with the new, keeping the dancing crowd happy, and after the new track “My Work Is Done,” they sent the crowd into a tizzy with their mainstream collaboration with Martin Solveig, “Hello.” And why stop there? Their massive solo track “Let It Go” followed on the heels of “Hello,” and I was honestly shocked by the fact that “Let It Go” got a bigger reaction. The crowd went crazy! After “Fixin to Thrill,” the band performed two additional tracks for their encore. “Okay Delore,” and new track “Rocket Ship” wrapped up the evening, with Martina fudging the lyrics of the latter before humorously pointing out that we didn’t know the lyrics either, so who cared? Her personality really brought the right, playful vibe to the show and when we weren’t cheering and yelling, we were laughing at her antics. “Who writes a set list for the encore anyway?”
Some tracks I found I was wishing to hear included “Take It Like A Man,” “Animale” with Don Diablo, “Competition,” and “Jesus Doesn’t Love Me.” With so much of the show centered around introducing fans to new tracks, some beloved favorites were not included. I didn’t specifically notice their lack, but in retrospect those were the tracks I would have dropped a couple new tracks to include.
Dragonette could surely have been a dull affair without the fantastic performances given by the band members and just how much personality Martina Sorbara has. Yes, her speaking voice sounds just like her singing voice, which makes everything sound that much cuter, even when she’s singing about high class call girls. And kudos to The Black Cat for some awesome lighting effects, showering Martina and the boys in a myriad of colors, setting the mood just right for each track. Check out Dragonette’s Myspace or Facebook for tour dates. If they are coming to your city, make it a point to go see them.