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Little Boots first hit the scene in 2009 with the release of her debut album, Hands, a strong night-on-the-town album that earned her favorable comparisons to contemporary Synth-Pop singers like Ellie Goulding and La Roux’s Elly. Now, four years later, Little Boots is continuing to bring the beats while taking on a more aural and atmospheric approach with her new album Nocturnes, which comes out in the United States today, May 7th. Though two days ago, on the day the album was released overseas, Little Boots provided concertgoers at the Sinclair in Cambridge with a very promising preview.
But before Little Boots took the stage, the audience was treated with a set from Feathers. Feathers is an electronic/pop and all-girl band (save for their bearded drummer) featuring members of Missions, Ringo Deathstarr and Midnight Masses. Despite the fact that Feathers’ debut album, If All now Here, has yet to be released, the group has also opened for quite a few notable electronic artists including Robyn, Washed Out, and Depeche Mode. The latter group’s influence was obvious as Feathers’ set was filled haunting and ominous sounds, plus steady rhythms that helped them win over a good portion of the audience by the end of their set. Considering the darker and more aural themes of Little Boots’ new album Nocturnes, Feathers proved to be a fitting opener for the night.
The next band, a self-described “Super-Pop” act from New York named AVAN LAVA, took things in the complete opposite direction with an incredibly fierce, energetic and cheerful live set like none other. When their two female dancers/singers began the set by firing two poppers into the crowd as the lights suddenly came up, it was like they activated a time machine that sent the entire audience to a massive 1970s Disco party. Then lead vocalist TC immediately took to the stage with smooth dance moves and a voice that would give blue-eyed soul-singer Mayer Hawthorne a run for his money. The constant energy and stage presence of the 6-piece group was comparable to that of a young Human League. Not even an equipment malfunction at the beginning of AVAN LAVA’s closing song could slow them down. AVAN LAVA set the bar very high, and it seemed unlikely that Little Boots would be able to top it, although not impossible.
Shortly after 10pm, and shortly after her backing band quietly walked on stage, Little Boots soon joined them to bring the audience a set that stroke a perfect balance between the dark mood of Feathers and the upbeat melodies of AVAN LAVA. Throughout the night all eyes were on Little Boots as she mesmerized the audience with her voice and graceful hand movements, whether they were moving along her mic stand or sliding across her synthesizer. She began her set with “Motorway,” the atmospheric opening track of her new album Nocturnes, which seamlessly transitioned into the bitter Nocturnes cut “Confusion.” Both songs were accompanied by a hectic set of overhead lights that helped emphasize the frantic tone of each. The rest of the show was peppered with pounding dance floor anthems with deceptively dark meanings like “New In Town” and “Every Night I Say a Prayer,” Nu-Disco flare numbers like “Beat Beat,” and synth-heavy hits like “Earthquake.” A major highlight of the night was “Meddle,” a track that heavily features Little Boots’ signature Tenori-On and had the crowd clapping along to its cowbell-like sound. Little Boots then ended the show strong with her hit “Remedy” plus a new breakdown section at the end that slowly morphed into Nocturnes’ lead single “Shake.”
Overall, Little Boots put on an incredibly stirring performance. She was so into it that one of her earrings fell off twice that night. By the end of it all the audience was also undoubtedly feeling it, as Boots left concert-goers chanting for more even after the lights went on and most of the room cleared out. Don’t worry though. There’s little doubt (no pun intended) that Little Boots will one day return to Boston to, as she sings on “New in Town,” “show you a real good time.”