dirtyprojectors1.jpg
Chona Kasinger
Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth
Dirty Projectors, Wye Oak

Monday, July 23rd

Showbox at the Market

It's impressive for anyone to fill the Showbox

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Dirty Projectors Teach an Art-Rock Master Class, Last Night at the Showbox

dirtyprojectors1.jpg
Chona Kasinger
Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth
Dirty Projectors, Wye Oak

Monday, July 23rd

Showbox at the Market

It's impressive for anyone to fill the Showbox on a Monday after Block Party, but when you're an aggressively experimental art-rock band from Brooklyn, making the crowd scream louder than the music for an encore is a feat indeed. That, obviously, is what happened when Dirty Projectors left the stage last night after playing nearly the entirety of their new art-pop masterpiece Swing Lo Magellan. Their display of control over the complexities of their music, from tapping guitars to blipping keyboards to fluid bass, had the fans begging for more, while Dave Longstreth and Amber Coffman's spot-on vocals made more than one person exclaim "Damn!" as they passed by in the crowd. More on that later.

But first, a few words about tourmates Wye Oak.

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Chona Kasinger
Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak
The Baltimore duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack were a perfect match for Dirty Projectors (Wasner even filled in on vocals during their recent performance on Fallon)-- referencing classic rock, hardcore, shoegaze, and even a little outlaw country twang, they transform their influences into their own guitar-heavy sound. This time, they played an especially shoegazey set, drawing heavy, dreamy songs from last year's Civilian and eschewing all but one from previous album The Knot. They also played some new material, opening with a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on their dream-pop debut, and sticking in new jam "Spiral," which Wasner called "a silly little disco song."

Rather than his usual one-handed drumming (he holds down bass duties with his left hand on a keyboard), Stack switched to bass and left the beats to a machine. With its ever-changing, sliding bass line topped with staccato guitar, it didn't sound far from Nine Inch Nails crossed with Steely Dan. Industrial-meets-dad rock sounds like a strange combination, but it worked, making fans excited for the new direction and new music from the band. They recently recorded the song for Adult Swim-- give it a listen here.

Notes from last night's Dirty Projectors show continues...

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Chona Kasinger
Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman
It was clear from the opening notes of the title track that Dirty Projectors meant business, racing through the intricate harmonies and feathery guitars of "Swing Lo Magellan," "Offspring Are Blank," "The Socialites," and the addictive single "Gun Has No Trigger" in short order. Not to get too superlative, but the backing vocals are on par with Motown (possibly thanks to the wonders of in-ear monitors), while Longstreth sells every note and inflection no matter how weird. When Coffman took the lead, as on "The Socialites," she paced the stage with a cordless mic, running trills worthy of any American Idol hopeful and sounding better live than most multi-million-selling pop star.

The combination of top 40 vocals, hip hop beats, and experimental guitar sounds makes Swing Lo Magellan extremely addictive. Some say it's less accessible than its predecessor Bitte Orca (from which they only played three songs), and yeah, there's less guitar, but how can you question the easy listening of a song like "Dance For You" or "Just From Chevron?" The audience clearly agreed, grooving to freaky jams like "Offspring Are Blank" and singing along, even though the album only came out last week. By the time Coffman launched "Stillness Is the Move" in the encore, the crowd was doing a full-on wave and there was a dude breakdancing by the merch.

Dirty Projectors do something unique and they do it well. It's no wonder they can fill a club with smiling, dancing superfans under any circumstances, any night of the week.

 
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