Dirty Projectors live in Brooklyn: Easy to respect, hard to love

There’s no dearth of quality New York bands these days as recent spirit squads have pointed out, but few have developed their sound into such a unified front of deliberate weirdness as Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors, who played a sold-out show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg last night. This six-person experimental band’s approach to music and live performance brings to mind influences like David Byrne, Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass, but the complex soundscapes they’ve created seems to spring from nothing other than their collective creative quirks.

The Dirty Projectors are blessed with a fantastic mix of complementary vocalists. Lead singer and guitarist Dave Longstreth sounds somewhat like Antony Hegarty + testosterone, and he shares the voice-time equally with three female backup vocalists who also take turns singing lead. Check out Amber Coffman fronting the avant tinkerers on “the hit,” the synth-inflected “Stillness is the Move”:

Throughout their set, the DPs brought their hooks and melodies in staccato bursts — spindly, angular guitar riffs phase in and out while choral voices exploded with the force of a geyser, then disappeared just as suddenly.

The highlight of the night was “Useful Chamber,” which touched on a variety of weirdo rockers without ever sounding derivative. The wailing, cathartic background vocals brought to mind the ResidentsGod In Three Persons album, while the stomping drums and Television-meets-Troggs guitar work made the audience shimmy and shake as much as is conceivable for music this esoteric.

Which isn’t to say you can’t move your body to their music, it’s simply that the band doesn’t invite the audience to let go. Dirty Projectors are about premeditated artistic expression, and their medium just happens to be music—unlike their borough brethren Animal Collective, who seem music lovers first and artists second. At the end of the night, it was easy to be impressed by this band, but hard to fall in love with them.

Are they too difficult? Too challenging? Nah. They could just use a friendly reminder of why they got into rock & roll in the first place.


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Comments (4 total) Add your comment
  • N Patton

    Not hard for me to love them. Bitte Orca is easily the best album of the year beating out Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear by quite a bit.

    And I honestly don’t see what’s so weird or challenging about them.

    • massimo

      me too uou’re right , in the playlist too

  • andrew

    have heard about this band for years from friends and never actually listened to them.

    after watching that video i know why. that was such unintelligible hipster crap. hard to love? try impossible to comprehend. pretentious dreck.

  • Destarke

    Spot on about their music, and for the rest it’s just a matter of individual taste, people, lighten up. I saw them at Bowery Ballroom last night and I found them easy to love, easy to dance to, easy to let go to and the crowd seemed to think so too. Best show I’ve seen in a very long time.

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