Dirty Projectors @ Metro, Sydney 10/03/10

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Mar 14 2010, 22h54

Wed 10 Mar – Dirty Projectors
3 months into 2010 and we’ve been graced by the presence of two of the more interesting and creatively adventurous indie bands of recent years. Grizzly Bear entranced many at their Sydney Festival shows and though a little lower on the radar, Dirty Projectors showed at the Metro what a truly unique and rewarding group they are.

Support came from Danimals who seem to be everywhere at the moment. Each time I see them I’m more impressed by the way their jam compositions are developing more muscle and intent. For the most part the nervous looking around and hesitation has gone though thankfully frontman still has his twitchy ‘rabbit in the headlights’ charm intact.

From the opening song Dirty Projectors had the full attention of the Metro. Backing vocalists aren’t something you often see with bands of this ilk, they are normally reserved for soul, jazz and classic rock acts and it is probably doing Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle a disservice by calling them backing singers, so integral were their voices to the sound of the band. They coo’ed, yelped and wove intricate melodies so tightly that you suspected they were at some point siamese triplets. A star in her own right, Deradoorian’s solo spot on Two Doves with Dave Longstreth had the crowd in attentive silence before they erupted in rapturous applause and even the band joined in.

Sounding like Manhattan Transfer on an African safari with Talking Heads, Dirty Projectors’ magic lies in all facets of their sound. Drummer Brian McComber can switch between intricate deconstruction and building a tsunami of rhythm at the drop of a hi hat. Bassist Nat Baldwin came and went as the songs required but his effortless and understated playing was the glue that held the funkier songs together.

Out front the tall and gangly Dave Longstreth directed the show with nods of the head and his totally unique guitar style that was either wiggly African desert blues on No Intention or gentler folk picking of Useful Chamber. His uniqueness is in both his guitar playing and his emotive, almost theatrical voice. Both are key to the core of Dirty Projectors and that he has been able to augment his songs with the amazing vocal harmonies and instrumentation shows he isn’t just winging it. On stage he appeared to be the man in control at all times.

Stillness Is the Move is the gem of Bitte Orca and received a big cheer from the crowd. Strangely many of the passive Sydney indie fans couldn’t bring themselves to be physically moved by the music. Essentially indie RnB, it should have an audience swaying and dancing without resistance but they just couldn’t allow themselves that luxury.

With Bitte Orca forming the bulk of their set they still had time to dip into their remodeled take on Black Flag’s Damaged album including Spray Paint(The Walls) and Gimme Gimme Gimme. Those songs sat comfortably among their newer ones and showed just how unique the band’s interpretative skills are.

Not since Talking Heads has a band mixed art sensibilities with african rhythms and modern urban minimalism so effectively. It was a truly inspiring evening where creativity and imagination were as important as musicality or stagecraft. Exceptional doesn’t really go anywhere near describing just how damn good Dirty Projectors were.

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