I was lucky enough to catch the Dirty Projectors at Golden Plains, and even in a soaking wet outdoor amphitheatre, even with me pretty drunk, even with my life falling apart and my raincoat not so great and my stomach grumbling and being further away from the stage than I was hoping, I was blown away by them.
Seeing them at the Metro was actually, if it was possible, better. Not only because I was dry, sober and in my home town with my homies, but because their set was longer, their songs more varied and less festival-orientated, and the sound more detailed. The thing about this band is that if you have heard their albums and you understand them and adore them, their recordings are so perfect sounding that you don’t think that people could really ever sound like that and that it must be quite produced.
Turns out, no. Turns out, those girls are singing that and yes they sound like a keyboard set to ‘jazz voice’ sound and they are alternating each note in that scale passage beautifully, perfectly, flawlessly, and turns out, yeah, you may as well give up making music right now because it will never sound anywhere as good as that. Ever.
And this is just the sound of it. This show also pushed me to almost worshipful admiration of Dave Longstreth’s absolutely incredible songwriting skills. I couldn’t help but feel that he must be reasonably mentally unstable to create such complex, genius arrangements and structures in songs. Moving through jazz, rock, pop, RnB, experimental, psychadelia, minimalist and folk seamlessly, the set challenged every expectation or idea you might have had about contemporary music.
Longstreth channels David Byrne in a big way – and not just in the brilliant performance of ‘Knotty Pine’, originally recorded with Mr Talking Heads himself – but in his warbling, wandering vocals and his vibe in the group.
Maybe I am over-exaggerating in my language here but I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure members of the music industry were holding each other outside the venue, remarking on how this was going to be the benchmark gig of the year. There was some way that everyone could be impressed here – whether it was the incredible guitar work, both acoustic and electric, or the aforementioned mentally good vocal stylings, or the songwriting, or the spot-on drummer, or the cute girls or whatever, it was really difficult to find anything wrong with it.
Perhaps Longstreth’s personality could irk some – my house mate remarked that he seemed very domineering in the group, tending to assume that they follow his lead at all times, and yet I didn’t take issue with this at all, probably because I freaking want to marry the guy and do whatever you want you are still going to be one of the most fantastically talented musicians and songwriters of your generation and I don’t care if you come and personally set my house on fire, I’d still sacrifice my first born to even begin to understand how your beautiful musical brain works, Dave. So yeah, it was good.