Thursday, September 13, 2007

Last Night: Dirty Projectors @ Bottom Of The Hill

Three surprises for me at tonight's Dirty Projectors show:

1) The band rocks live. Yes, there's enthusiasm on the record, but the live experience surpasses it tenfold.

2) The vocals on the record are not overdubs. Seriously. I was shocked - the band nails complex three part harmonies consistently over the course of the entire set.

3) Dave Longstreth != Dirty Projectors. (that's "not equal" for all you non-nerds) From the reviews you would think that his introverted genius fueled a group of session musicians - not so. The rest of the band contributed endless amounts of inspiration to create the full effect.

At tonight's show I felt like I was watching the emergence of a genre, or the discovery of something as of yet undefined. There were times when the crowd didn't quite seem to "get it", yet undeniably loved it. The Dirty Projectors performance was a mix of all things that are good about live performance: technical proficiency, random creativity, and unbridled charisma.

The comparison I would most immediately make for Dave Longstreth is an early-days David Byrne. I don't know if he was purposefully aping Byrne's moves, but the vibe was there. He managed to rock out in a frenetic and vibrant way that at once created chaos, and at the same time imbued his guitar with a mathematical abruptness and sterility.

Perhaps the most compelling part about the set was how unlike the album it was. Despite being an amazing performance, it departed from the records on so many levels that it almost begged for a return examination of the source material. I know that over the next few days I'll be listening with the hope of a piece of what I heard tonight.

The band closed with an amazing version of "Police Story", and despite my previous post, it was anything but a comical delivery. The band nailed it, and sent everyone home wanting more.

More photos (and higher res) at the H.A.D. flickr feed.