Petite Noir's Brooklyn Debut with Solange

Sunday marked the last day of Northside Festival. Its Converse Rubber Tracks Live presented an impressive line-up of performers with Solange headlining the afternoon’s worth of music. A small crowd had already gathered at McCarren Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when My Midnight Heart was sound checking on stage and it continued to grow in size by the time Cable was ready to perform at 4:45 p.m. Yet fortunately Petite Noir, who played right before Solange, received a packed-out crowd and definitely impressed Solange’s fans. I got the chance to speak with 22-year-old lead vocalist Yannick Llunga of Petite Noir before he went on stage to discuss their soon-to-be-released album and his excitement to play with Solange.

Petite Noir is a London-based band comprised of Llunga and his drummer, bassist and guitarist. The four band members found each other a year ago thanks to Llunga’s manager, Russell Crank of Bad Life, who predicted that they would click when they played together. According to Llunga, that is exactly what happened.

Their upcoming October album with Domino Records is self-titled. Llunga said that most of his songs evolved after jamming, which would then inspire his lyrics. Their album’s sound is a mix between African beats (Llunga was born in South Africa and just moved to London a year ago) and electronic-New Wave that ultimately elicits the feelings and emotions that accompany a relationship between two people. Petite Noir’s album is basically a four-year documentation of the experiences Llunga and his girlfriend have had. If you check out Petite Noir’s music video for “Noirse,” you will witness Llunga’s expressivity of “the honeymoon phase.”

After touring with Foals and performing their first SXSW show this past March, Petite Noir was contacted by Solange to perform with her at Northside Festival. Llunga smiled as he recalled the phone call he got. According to Llunga, after Petite Noir plays their first show in New York with Solange, they will take a short break before they start touring Europe in July to promote their new album.

Petite Noir, each member dressed in all-black and Llunga playing on a stark-white electric guitar, gave an excellent preview of what we can expect from this album. Heavy African-influenced drum beats backed up electronic guitar riffs and Llunga’s deep vocals that truly portrayed his emotions, with even a hint of sexual tension undertone to them. As Llunga looked out into the crowd, gave a salute and said, “New York, you are all beautiful,” before he exited the stage, I thought that Petite Noir knew how to lure in a crowd’s attention.

And then came the long awaited Solange. She began her set with “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work” and immediately proved that she knew how to work her crowd. Everyone sang along and then watched as Solange, with her knee-length braids, danced in-between her lyrics with fluidity and a glowing attitude. She said, “I want to make this place into a junior high school dance party,” and even changed out of her heels and into a pair of more dance-worthy shoes. Of course though “Losing You” was the loudest in her set and the entire crowd went crazy with dance moves. Solange could not have been a more happier performer, smiling as she sang and felt the music, and told her fans, “I’m so psyched to be here.”

Photos By: Pat Bombard and Alison Bushor

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