All photos: Merrijoy Vicente
All words: Katherine Burcham
Ever gone to a show to see one of your favorite bands and left completely blown away by an entirely different band?
That’s exactly what happened last Friday, when I joined Pick-Up’s own Merrijoy Vicente at the 9:30 Club for the first of two sold-out Dirty Projectors shows.
To be blunt, we were both there for Wye Oak. The Baltimore duo’s 2011 release, Civilian, was a favorite between us and any opportunity to hear it live should not be missed. On Friday, Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack did not disappoint, playing over half of Civilian and a handful of both older and newer songs, including “Spiral” (or, if you ask the confused guy behind me, “Sperm”).
Jenn seemed excited to be playing, according to her, “the world-famous 9:30 Club.” Between her resonant vocals and fuzzy guitar – wordlessly accompanied by Andy on keys and percussion – the pair proved ready to play a space they’ll likely see full of their own fans sooner than later.
But to get back to the foreshadowed turn of events: Dirty Projectors.
I didn’t even bother with July’s Swing Lo Magellan after Bitte Orca – the 2009 album that made Dirty Projectors a battleship-sized blip on every music snob’s radar – failed to win over my hook-addicted ears. Before the show, I proposed a deal to Merrijoy: we had to stay at least through “Stillness Is the Move,” but were free to leave at any point after.
In the end, we both stayed for the whole show… and not only because “Stillness Is the Move” was the penultimate choice of the night. From the first to the last of their 16 songs, Dirty Projectors had the crowd, the two of us included, completely hooked. David Longstreth and the rest of the band – sometimes two people, sometimes five – exhibited some of the tightest vocal harmonies and highly idiosyncratic songwriting imaginable. It was dissonant and disjointed. As another friend put it, it was almost as if the band’s mission was to sound like they had never rehearsed at all, but the precision of every piece proved otherwise.
This is the point where the music starts playing mid-Oscar speech in some category no one cares about, so time for the last award of the night: Best Song. That honor goes to “Useful Chamber,” a seven-minute number that had the band and the crowd moving a little more than usual. It helped bring to a close a great set by a band that will soon get another listen from at least two concertgoers proven wrong.
The Dirty Projectors