Live Review: The Dirty Projectors and Wye Oak at the Showbox MarketPosted by Daniel Ahrendt
David Longstreth of The Dirty Projectors (All photos by Daniel Ahrendt)
Despite Capitol Hill Block Party having co-opted Capitol Hill as a compact beer fuelled decibel blaster all weekend, Seattlites and Tacomans zestfully converged on the Showbox Market monday night, forming a most impressive line for The Dirty Projectors. From the latent excitement in the queque outside to the rabid front-stage stake out inside, it was quite clear that this show had been on many smartphone calendars. The set that band leader David Longstreth and his stupidly talented cohort put on was delightful, engaging, and filled with musical fireworks that illustrated just how inventive this band is. As long as you don’t hate music, any listener can enjoy something among the myriad of rhythmic play and melodic/harmonic complexity present in each tune.
The Dirty Projectors newest album, Swing Lo Magellan, was released in the U.S on the 10th of this month and the material therein is very similar to their 2009 album Bitte Orca. The songs are filled with melodic complexity and rhythmic exercise. Motivic acrobatics jump from instruments to the voices of Longstreth, the brilliant Amber Coffman, Olga Bell, and Haley Dekle. The three women are known for producing some of the most unique harmonies in the recent popular landscape and such harmonies were some of the most astounding parts of their live performance. Their volume flexibility and shifts from round to sharp tones at the drop of a hat often combined joyously with the display of dry guitar delight that Longstreth and Coffman exhibited. The most shocking display of vocal ingenuity came when the band played “Wittenberg IV,” a rather short and direct tune lead by the women. At the climax of the chorus, all three would delve into an exceptionally loud orchestrated vocal phasing, reminding me simultaneously of glorious parakeets and not too scary horror films. The effect left the audience hollering in astonishment.
There were a few minor malfunctions, such as the sudden early drop out of Nat Baldwin’s bass and the surprising lack of cooperation from Longstreth’s pedal board during the three encores. Neither issue lasted long or even mattered much to the audience who packed the Showbox with incredible monday enthusiasm. The Dirty Projectors make it seem so easy; this group was simply born to perform music. No one on stage had a care in the world as the crowd screamed and smiled in appreciation. The audience was a great mix of ages, all there to enjoy some truly unique pop music. From listening around, it seems many also came in the oblique hope that The Dirty Projectors’ musical inventiveness would rub off on them. They are one of the recent American bands that have taken the creative palette up a notch. Everyone seems to want to study their music as much as they want to dance to it. That in and of itself is a fantastic phenomenon, but then again, so are they.
Nat Baldwin and Michael Johnson
Opening for The Dirty Projectors on this tour are Baltimore’s exceptional atmospheric rock duo Wye Oak. The duo made up of Andy Stack and Jen Wasner produces a mixture of understated velvety song writing with caring and powerful guitar born melodies. Driven by Wasner’s use of reverb and noise coupled with Stack’s thoroughly coordinated use of the kit and the keyboard, Wye Oak made many fans on Monday and reinforced the presence to those they already had.