Live review Dirty Projector at Melkweg, Amsterdam October 24th 2012 – My expectations for the Dirty Projectors gigs were high and the band from Brooklyn well exceeded them. Apart from the statement that people without any sense of rhythm should not be allowed to clap along to anything other than simple quadruple time, I have nothing but superlatives for Tuesday’s performance. (You challenged clappers almost ruined Just From Chevronas one of the highlights of the evening.)
When I saw Dirty Projectors play live for the first time in 2009, shortly after the release of their highly appraised sixth album, I wasn’t surprised to see some of the audience leave the premises after a couple of songs. If you’re out for some good ol’ indie rock then Dirty Projectors is not for you. It’s not that they don’t rock, it’s only that there’s nothing good ol’ about the way they do it. Every chord- and time change demands could lead you up the garden path, even if you are familiar with the band’s records. David Longstreth’s songs rarely stop evolving. It’s just one of the many aspects that make a Dirty Projector concert something to look forward for.
Tuesday’s gig differs from the one I attended in 2009 in at least four ways. Firstly, three years ago Dirty Projectors were supported by an act that went on to become one of the most successful Afro-beat projects of recent years. For many it was the first acquaintance with tUnE-yArDs, a.k.a. Merrill Garbus’ inventive Wonky pop loops. It’s safe to say that, last Tuesday evening, the opening act did not leave that kind of a first impression. Three piece Callers played a sober set filled with many of the rhythms we’d expect from a support act to Dirty Projectors. Singer Sara Lucas possesses a warm folk-jazz voice that reminds me of a million and one American singers. Apart from that Callers’ greatest asset seems to be that they are from Brooklyn as well.
The second noteworthy change since 2009 is that David Longstreth has grown his hair and now looks like a cross between Hans Teeuwen and Peter Te Bos (or for the non-Dutchies: between Nick Cave and Jim Carrey). Dirty Projectors is his band, but on stage there doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy. The band come across as a tight collective in which everybody is allowed to take the limelight and to make his or her own mistakes. After all, Dirty Projectors do not make flawless records and do not give flawless perfomances. The band gracefully flaunt their imperfections.
The third difference between now and then is the absence of vocalist / bass player Angel Deradoorian, who has left to focus on her solo-career. On stage Deradoorian has been replaced by ex-Chairlift member, Olga Bell, who sings and plays keyboard. The vocal harmonies between Bell, Amber Coffman and Haily Dekle are at least as extraordinary and complex as they were with Deradoorian. Especially during the two only songs (Wittenberg III and IV) in the set list that don’t originate from Bitte Orca or Swing Lo Magellan.
Last difference: bougth myself a T-shirt. It was that kind of gig.