Dirty Projectors' Golden Chord Live
Brooklyn sixpiece sardines Emo's East
By Abby Johnston, 9:41AM, Fri. Aug. 3, 2012
Austin was a homecoming for the angelic vocalists of Dirty Projectors. Guitarist Amber Coffman hails from these not-so-mean streets, Olga Bell’s father is a fellow Longhorn, and Haley Dekle visited with family before the Brooklyn-based band's packed show at Emo’s East Thursday.
After the rollicking cacophony of Baltimore duo Wye Oak, Dirty Projectors frontman David Longstreth took the stage without two of his three Charlie's Angels and led the band straight into the title track of the group's July release, Swing Lo Magellan. Though they plowed through the opener in top form, how Coffman was going to execute the band's signature vocal trills solo was a mystery. Finally, as the final notes of their opener fell, Bell situated herself at the keyboards and Dekle emerged from the wings to help with percussion.
Now the show could start.
Watching Dirty Projectors is like watching a jazz troupe – each bandmember operates on their own beat. Often it seems as though the whole thing verges on collapse, but then everything swells back into cohesion. In the former vein, “About to Die” featured three different handclap patterns all at once, while in the latter Longstreth’s nasally, wavering voice was clear and rich, ringing clearly over bright guitar work on “See What She Seeing.”
Despite deft guitarists and decadent musical composition, Dirty Projectors remains about the vocals. Longstreth’s voice translated flawlessly from recordings as backed by his female chorus, the guitarist meanwhile breaking up harmony runs at rapid-fire speed to pull together sustained goose bumps. If the golden chord exists, it manifested itself there. I felt myself going weak at the knees.
The sixpiece broke from its Swing Lo Magellan showcase for Bitte Orca favorite “Cannibal Resource.” Coffman briefly took the reins for “The Socialites,” another cut from the new album, while “No Intention” bobbed with quiet elegance.
In the death cries of the Ivy League-indie movement, Dirty Projectors holds its Yale-educated head up high. Smart direction and tight execution are key, obviously held strong by Longstreth, but the charming and ludicrously talented band ultimately just keeps it simple.