Last night, P&C’s humble blogger and reviewer Esteban Miguel got out to check out The Dirty Projectors and Owen Pallett at just another stop on their lengthy touring roster. Set amidst a backdrop of ornate fixtures, the night was filled with some serious experimentation: Pallett’s blend of baroque style pop coupled with touring guitarist/percussionist Thomas Gill’s precise concentration, delicious cat calls from the women Projectors, and the soft under-footing of the entire affair. Esteban Miguel reviews…
It was a weird little gig, which seemed to suit a quirky outfit like the Dirty Projectors just fine.
The Wilbur Theatre in Boston provides both an intimate yet distant stage for a show. Up front, there is a spacious pit where it’s so easy to get close to the stage–yet that very same pit is in fact of an all together different variety than one normally accustomed to gig goers: it was covered in dirtied crimson carpet.
Entering the gig, it was hard to tell if we were at a rock concert or were in store for a concerto–though the plaid-clad, bespectacled college hipster set did a bit to quell the later notion. Still, the opening act wailing on a violin–Owen Pallett, naturally– in this posh-looking concert hall did little to shake the aforementioned high brow affair. The lighting was a bit strange as well. At times, they would dramatically switch from dark to house lights in mid-tune and the high beam-like stage lamps sometimes made me feel like I was being punished for occasionally, um, OK, frequently, gawking at backing vocalist Haley Dekle.
But the Dirty Projectors were able to embrace the surroundings, even pointing out the folks sitting firmly in the balcony seats.
Experimentation is all well in good. But when it buries the band behind it, experimentation can devolve into white noise. The band didn’t let that happen. Even if the show lacked the same level of energy as a previous visit to Boston at the Paradise late last year, the band seemed to show more personality this time round.
It was some small, human moments.
Dave Longstreth struggled with his mic late in the gig (He literally battled with the stand as it refused to lower itself). After he put his little arm into it and slathered on some elbow grease, he gave a gesture of approval after gig goers mocked (sort of?) cheered him. And when it was Angel Deradoorian’s turn to sing the lead vocals in “Two Doves”, she seemed genuinely melancholy and moved – which made the calm of the pretty little melody stand out even more in a raging sea of experimentation.
The crowd seemed predisposed to eating up the performance as the band was greeted with sometimes uncomfortable levels of adoration. Of course, the music featured the kinetic back-and-forth of female vocals cascading around Longstreth’s voice. And as Your Humble Blogger pointed out, the band can really hit a groove when fully utilizing the rhythm section. Nothing like a strong bass line and a bit of the human touch to ground a performance.