Friday, November 06, 2009

Dragonette is Fixin To Thrill, and Makes Good

Me, oh, my. I spent last night partying it up to the wee hours of the morning with my oldest friend who recently made the big move from suburbia New York to Brooklyn, and her (and my new) friend from her college, with none other than electro-rockers Dragonette at the classically hipster Santos Party House in SoHo. (I got home around 3:30AM, and still woke up at 6:30AM for work this morning. I'm a trooper, no? Heh.)

Given I haven't made the time to sit down and write about just how much I have fallen in love with Dragonette over the course of this past year, let me explain. I had been a fan for several months long before I made the move to physically purchase their debut album, Galore (which I should note is the final purchase I made from the now deceased Virgin Megastore in Times Square). The followup, Fixin To Thrill, has done what all good sophomore albums should, and has bested their debut in terms of enjoyment to my ears. Aside from the incredible self-titled debut single (its Villains Remix counterpart is also supremely ace and almost eclipses the original...almost), the entire disc has seen tremendous amounts of spins over the past few weeks, most notably "Gone Too Far", "Liar", "Okay Dolore", "Stupid Grin", "Pick Up the Phone" and especially "Big Sunglasses." You can probably glean from my obvious adoration that Fixin To Thrill, despite only being released this past month, will most definitely make my list of 'The Best Albums of 2009'. If you haven't heard/gotten the record, do yourself a supreme favor and give it a few spins. I guarantee at least one song will grow on you.

But back to Dragonette live. I must say, there is nothing quite like seeing an relatively underground electro-rock band in an intimate venue like Santos in the dead of night in trendy downtown New York. And when I say "intimate" I really really mean it. There couldn't have been more than 150-2000 people there, and that's including Dragonette, its opening bands, the DJ, the bouncers and the bartenders. I believe the venue for my Junior Prom (and really, I come from the middle of nowhere) was about four times the size of this venue. Anywhere you were, you had a prime seat. The crowd was somewhat mixed: lots of young guns like myself who were into kitschy electro and were clearly familiar with Dragonette and had no problem expressing it by dancing and rocking out and singing every word (surprisingly a lot of straight guys in their 30's -- not sure why this surprised me, it just did), a fair amount of hipsters who clearly just wanted to be "scene", and a few like my two friends who were brought along for the fun and left as newbie fans.

Their opener act, The Invisible, served as an alright warmup, and my comrades insistence that their lead singer looked an awful lot like Randy Jackson entertained all three of us to no end. Doors opened at 11PM, and Dragonette wouldn't be making a stage appearance until close to 1:30AM, then add to that the fact that the most basic of alcoholic beverages would cost you around $11 -- so we had to entertain ourselves somehow. The club struck me as potential former haute of Ms. Lady Gaga, with its heart shaped disco balls, near-epileptic strobe lighting and slightly sweet-scented fog.

Once Dragonette finally took the stage, I was further cemented in the mindset that should I ever start my own electro-rock band, I'd want it to be just like Dragonette in every way. The bass guitarist had a sweet looking instrument to work with that randomly reminded me of Finding Nemo with its orange and white swirled face plate. The guitarist rocked bright flannel. And lead singer, the all-around incredible and talented in every way Martina Sorbara, presented her pixie-like self in a black tanktop and gray pants-with-overalls jumpsuit combo, giving her a very Freddie Mercury kind of look that few women could rock as effectively. Her hair was classic electro asymmetrical -- think Elly Jackson of La Roux meets Peaches, but in brunette. Her voice (even when speaking normally) is reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper on helium, and I mean that it the best (and most adorable but still rockin') way.

They opened up their set with their debut (and best known) single, "I Get Around," and from there the buzz just built. Although the majority of the material played was from Thrill, a good selection of favorites from Galore were also played ("Take It Like A Man", "Competition"). I was particularly excited when "Big Sunglasses" was cued up, as I sort of fear it will get lost as B-Side shuffle off of Thrill and not the big dancey single I so desperately want it to be (I never pick the singles, it seems). However, if the crowd reaction in NYC is any indicator, "Sunglasses" is a pretty solid hit. And had you been there with me, you would have witnessed a rather humiliating display of yours truly in a blue sparkly dress, rocking out screaming "I thought by now I'd be 5'11/I'd be hanging out with the top banana/Executive access to upper classes/Run and get me some of them big sunglasses!"

All of my favorite tunes were played, and played well. Dragonette is definitely a fun live band. I wasn't sure how they would translate from record to live venue, but for the most part, they sound just as they do on record, just louder, fuller and richer. The fuzzy guitar sounds fuzzier. The synth beats through you harder. And Martina's unique set of pipes are that much more striking. Long story short, they kick ridiculous ass.

Despite the fact that "Fixin To Thrill" (the song) has yet to crack the US, Canada or the UK, it clearly had a huge fanbase in NYC. The song served as their big closing number, and the reaction was downright electric. Even if you didn't know the words or the song, you were jumping up and down and humming along. They are the perfect example that chart success is downright insignificant when you are a band that doesn't take itself too seriously and is clearly in it for the right reasons: playing music for yourself and the fans. That's what it's all about, right? Every artist has to start somewhere. I like to think I got the chance to see Dragonette when, just before they truly are recognized for the quality that they are. Fingers crossed that the music world will "Pick Up The Phone" already.

Take a gander at these truly phenomenal professional photos taken from the show last night. Shots from the set I saw are toward the bottom. Below is the official music video for "Fixin To Thrill". Listen and learn, friends.


1 comment:

Paul said...

glad you had a great time. It's all about Big Sunglasses isn't it? So marvelous, though the rest is wonderful also!

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