As high-brow as Monday night’s showcase at the 9:30 Club looked on paper — a genre hopping rock act fronted by a former Yale student and a classically trained violinist and composer opening the show — it was an egoless affair.
When Amber Coffman messed up during her diva pose on the Dirty Projectors’ biggest, arguably best and one would say most excited to hear song “Stillness Is the Move”, she apologized and promised to nail it the next time. It was a very human moment for a group that’s otherwise known for their otherworldly vocal performances and complex time signatures.
Other than that it was more or less smooth sailing for the Brooklyn quintet on the first night of the tour which is more of a victory lap for the band’s near-classic Bitte Orca — which was played in its entirety — instead of touring behind anything in particular.
Dirty Projectors showcased their strengths through a sprawling sonic range filtered through zig-zagging song structures, but the real highlight were the three women in the group: the aforementioned Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle.
On tracks like “No Intention”, “What I See” and “Fucked For Life”, the harmonizing between them was flawless and seemed near mechanical. In terms of vocal performances, few have been quite as captivating as the trio. Deradoorian’s solo performance on “Two Doves” was breathtaking and garnered the night’s longest and most rapturous applause seconded by the aforementioned “Stillness Is the Move”.
Owen Pallett’s performance Monday night was the third time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him and it was by far the best of the three. Celebrating a birthday and engaging with a receptive crowd, Pallett’s set spanned his three full lengths.
Easy highlights of the night included “This is the Dream of Win and Regine”, “Midnight Directives”, but set closer “Lewis Takes His Shirt Off” found Pallett at his most inspiring. Looping keyboards over urgent violin playing while collaborator Thomas Gil laid down a steady rhythm section consisting of snare brushes and accompanying guitar.
At the end of the night, when you had a few choices to be made in terms of other concerts in town, people at the 9:30 Club were treated to one of the most honest and, frankly, best shows this year. With tour season about to open up in full swing in the next few weeks, we can only hope for more shows like these: free of pretension and a focus on the raw talent on stage.
Dirty Projectors Setlist:
I Will Truck
Fucked For Life
What I See
Stillness Is the Move
Florescent Half Dome
As I Went Out One Morning