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Live Review
Dirty Projectors, SFBH, Wellington

Dirty Projectors, SFBH, Wellington

Event Info

March 04 2010
The San Francisco Bath House, Wellington

Reviewed By
Brannavan Gnanalingam
29th March 2010

Review

Dirty Projectors
Thursday 4th March
San Francisco Bath House, Wellington

Dirty Projectors make such intricate music that it could easily fall flat live. They deconstruct their own music in each song, almost as if they’re not happy with a simple melody or a basic rhythm. However it is also the reason that they are so exciting to listen to – their intricacies and unpredictability thrill even when you’ve heard a song a hundred times. But I was surprised at how good they sounded live – their complexity was kept intact, but they genuinely exploded as a live band. And while their set was too brief - especially given how much good music they’ve released throughout their career - it showcased just how brilliant their songs are.

Their set also showed how much attention has gone into the individual components of their songs. Lead singer Dave Longstreth’s voice sounds like a 60s soul singer, contorting around and fighting against each note. He’s backed up by a triptych of back-up vocalists who combine to create all sorts of outrageous harmonies (kind of doo-wop, kind of Beach Boys). Their interplay with Longstreth is the chief immediate pleasure of the band. However Longstreth’s guitar playing was also impressive – his West African guitar riffs, rip-roaring metal solos, and use of dissonance (just in case it all got too easy to listen to) provided a sharp contrast to the sweet vocals. The drums, the bass, the synths all played their part too – exquisite counter-point melodies, polyrhythms, grooves and loud/softs were all part of the mix. What was incredibly complex sounded so simple in its execution.

Their set mainly focused on their latest (and most critically acclaimed) album Bitte Orca. Fans of 2005’s The Getty Address (an opera about The Eagles’ Don Henley) and 2007’s re-imagining of Black Flag’s Damaged (their version of ‘Rise Above’ still makes me want to collapse into a puddle each time I hear it), may not have been sated. Their main set, after all, lasted 45 minutes, ended rather abruptly, and a two song encore meant the full audience were still demanding more well after the lights and music came on. But it’d also be an incredibly difficult performance to put together as a band, which may also explain the brevity. But irrespective of any lingering disappointment, it’s also well worth shrugging and accepting that perfection doesn’t need to go on forever.