dirty projectors at neumo’s

dirty projectors at neumo’s

The last time Dirty Projectors were in town I felt horrible about missing them, both because parts of their new record, Bitte Orca nearly caused me to trip over myself while listening to it on my morning commute and also because it was clear that the size of the venues they’d be visiting would only get bigger and bigger. Luckily, they saw fit to pay another visit to Seattle this year, upsizing from Chop Suey to the still intimate Neumo’s, which felt especially cozy with the swampy warmth of packed wall-to-not-so-well-ventillated-wall and hanging-over-the-balcony with adoring onlookers.

And for good reason, for all the astoundingness of their recorded material, seeing Dave Longstreth and crew onstage performing is all the more jaw-dropping. Moment by moment, line by line, and note by note, the songs feel like a tenuous and delicate exploration of the limits of what makes a song and how a story can be told musically. The songs tremble and glow, flit and dive around the surface of an idea, rise and fall into big surrendery swells, and challenge the ambitious listeners seeking to take their physical response beyond clapping head bobbing to full on dancing. Despite this rather academic-seeming descriptions, the music remains brainy without becoming coldly cerebral; in fact, with the swirling rhythmic eddies, each member beginning in their own apparent orbit, and eventually coalescing, it feels like future soul, forward-looking yet with a full heart to match its sophistication. From an opening solo performance, to stripped down duets, but especially with the talents of the full group on display, each melodic episode was its own kind of thrilling. While Longstreth is the clear engineer of the operation, he wisely leaves plenty of room for vocalists Amber Coffman, Angel Deeradorean, and Haley Dekle to shine. Until seeing them in person, it somehow never occurred to me that the all of interlocking vocals could exist organically, but the syncopated showstopper brought down the house with the multipart, perfectly coordinated, rollicking vocal gymnastics. It was so amazing that the encore-concluding “Knotty Pine” was hardly necessary, but highly appreciated.

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