Dirty Projectors Sell Out

November 23rd, 2009

Dirty Projectors – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 21, 2009

Dirty Projectors - Music Hall of Williamsburg - November 21, 2009

(Photo: Jared Levy)

This month New York magazine featured Dirty Projectors in the cover story “Brooklyn’s Sonic Boom.” While the piece broadly expounded on the virtues of Brooklyn’s music scene, Dirty Projectors were labeled the archetype of “inventiveness and risk-taking.” Since the release of their 2009 album, Bitte Orca, the band has received many similar accolades. Originally the group represented frontman Dave Longstreth’s solo work. But Dirty Projectors expanded to include Amber Coffman (vocals, guitar), Angel Deradoorian (vocals, keyboard, samples, guitar, bass), Brian McOmber (drums), Nat Baldwin (bass) and Haley Dekle (vocals).

On Saturday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Dirty Projectors played the third of four sold-out New York City shows. Tune-Yards, the moniker for Merrill Garbus’s solo work, played the role of opener to perfection. Occasionally accompanied by a bassist, Garbus created the illusion of a band using ukulele, drums and multiple looping pedals. Her intensely passionate vocals, marked by a timbre similar to Nina Simone’s, left an indelible impression. A singular, strong yelling of the lyric “There is a natural sound that wild things make when they are bound” from the song “Hatari” was perhaps the highlight of the night.

Up next, Dirty Projectors displayed their virtuosity. I think a concert experience is highlighted by the ability to observe how musicians create their sound. So I was delighted to witness the intricate composition that defines their music. Using complex vocal arrangements, fractured Afro Pop riffs and fierce drumming, the band played many of their recent songs as well as some new material. Coffman boogied down to the R&B-influenced “Stillness Is the Move,” and “When the World Comes to an End,” a sonically engaging up-tempo song, closed out the night. With intensity, focus and brilliant musicianship, it’s no wonder that Dirty Projectors are the talk of the town. —Jared Levy