The Dirty Projectors' moniker is a metaphor conjuring technology and a blurring of rock aesthetics. Dave Longstreth, the band's brainchild and only perpetual member, has consistently added members to the band since his first studio release in With the release of 's Bitte Orcathe band has become a sextet of three men and three women singing and playing Longstreth's eclectic sponge rock, which manages to soak up and spit out influences as diverse as Brian Eno, James Brown, and Fela Kuti stuffed inside prog rock, Motown, and ethereal Art Pop containers.
Dirty Projectors. Dirty Projectors were the concept of Brooklyn's Dave Longstreth as a vehicle for his uniquely individual songwriting and experimental rock ideas. A prolific former Yale student, he left college to concentrate on music, making his lo-fi first album The Graceful Fallen Mango on a four-track recorder, full of mournful and slightly eccentric melodies and lyrics.
In the midst of "Fucked for Life," the first song on Dirty Projectors' New AttitudeDave Longstreth gives a muttered aside to the listener: "But check this out, yeah:" before careening once again into his remarkable falsetto'd warble. It's a testament to the control the mostly-unknown Longstreth has over an audience even outside of the live setting — we're waiting expectantly and eagerly for his guidance over each unforeseen twist and turn of Dirty Projectors' music. Who sees "Imagine It" coming — or can even interpret it: what is this tinny 80 BPM chipmunk shit, anyway?
While on Sunday night, guests spiced up an otherwise tired set, on Saturday it was just the band of six. Back in June in a sticky Philadelphia church basement with a low ceiling I saw Dirty Projectors play a very similar set. The difference was time.
Over the years a viewpoint seems to have taken hold that Dirty Projectors are a band to admire rather than truly love. That their music represents some grand inside joke, rather than anything with an actual beating heart behind it. And that their fondness for, say, translating songs into the ancient script of Mesopotamia, the first non-pictographic written language as practised in 5,BC between the Tigris and the Euphrates in the city of Ur, might possibly be considered a little pretentious.
This most recent performance was their third in town this summer, each with its own set of challenges, but the group finds a way to overcome those challenges every time. But just like their first two attempts, this show went off like a burst of sun and wonderful music. Unfortunately, working through the battleground that was the DMB crowd including getting spit on by a drunk yuppie meant missing the opening set from Happy Birthday, but word in the crowd was definitely positive.
The line on Dave Longstreth is that, under the guise of Dirty Projectors, he's comfortable with any genre, or at least he's an equal-opportunity dabbler. Spare, one-man acoustic songs, disjointed blues, melodic lo-fi indie, lush classical string arrangements, and bristling electro-- Longstreth's dived into all of it with equal aplomb. But if his last LP, Getty Addressshowed off his ability for synthesis, he had yet to make an album on which he played it all. That is, until the release of New Attitudea once-tour-only EP that's now enjoying rebirth as a proper release.
The back and forth was a change of pace needed to snap the year-old out of a crisis. Despite being the lead and driving force behind the NYC indie staple Dirty Projectors since his 20s, Longstreth got comfortable having a revolving door of bandmates for almost a decade — never the same faces until singer and guitarist Amber Coffman joined in Then the group quickly gelled into a consistent lineup, and eventually Coffman and Longstreth started dating.