Published Jul 23, 2009Skeletons' three-piece droning experimental jazz folk provided a suitable warm up for Brooklyn musical gods in the making, the Dirty Projectors. Led by singer-guitarist Matt Mehlan's spider-fingered acoustic guitar chords and acrobatic riffs, Skeletons played up their rhythmic strengths and spastic free-form jazz inclinations, often at the expense of melody.
Solid but frantic drumming anchored the group, and the lack of bass was compensated for with detuned guitar, which allowed the second guitarist to explore a wider palette of sound than found in the typical arsenal of a rock trio. The sounds Mehlan wrenched from his acoustic guitar almost made up for the lacklustre, barely audible vocals, but this was every inch the Dirty Projectors' night.
A rare blend of almost unfathomable technical prowess and otherworldly creativity, the Dirty Projectors have evolved a sound that is as complex as it is catchy. With comfortable confidence and poise, front-man Dave Longstreth and Angel Deradoorian took to the stage for a beautiful guitar and vocal duet of "Two Doves" before the rest of the group emerged to launch into a slightly truncated version of Bitte Orca opener "Cannibal Resource."
Sticking mostly to material from their current career-elevating album, the band held the audience in rapt attention throughout the night. Each song's performance was a master class in musicianship that pushed the boundaries of the human voice as an instrument to incredible new heights. The precise and rapidly modulating vocal rounds characterizing the DP ladies' harmonies are so foreign in their invention and execution that they occasionally come across like a trio of the Fifth Element's squid-like alien opera star, Diva Plavalaguna.
The band seemed flabbergasted and appreciatively embarrassed by the hollering audience approval, especially for the R&B gem "Stillness Is the Move" and the thunderous demands for more encores than the band was rehearsed to play. It was a nearly flawless performance and the very definition of leaving the audience wanting more.