Photos by Nicole Browner
Sold out and packed early. The Dirty Projectors have proven themselves quite the draw as they tour in support of their latest album “Bitte Orca” (Domino). The Night started out normal enough. Few people walking it at their leisure,Â but as opening band What’s Up took the stage a palatable sense of urgency filled the air. What’s Up played a purely instrumental set, mostly just bass, drums and keys. The sound was intricate, well-rehearsed, and totally free of standard form and meter. Formed in Sacramento, What’s up gained a following in theÂ capitol and surrounding regions before picking up and moving to Portland.Â Now with their opening slot for the seemingly omnipresent Dirty Projectors and their subsequent European tour, it seems only a matter of time before these guy’s break into the main spotlight. Their music is undeniably catchy and without the hindrance of a vocalist their free to explore different songwriting structures.
As the spaces between people on the floor got tighter and tighter, the Dirty Projectors’ founder/leading man Dave Longstreth took the stage with Angel Deradoorian to kick things off on a low-key note. They worked their way through “Two Doves” and then the rest of the band hit the stage.
There were a few mind-blowing moments. The vocals of “gimme gimme gimme”, which I had previously thought edited together in some dark studio, were pulled off flawlessly on stage. You can really get a sense of the amount of time these guys and gals must put into polishing every aspect of their performance. Even though the music remains highly experimental, the influences are immediately evident, from 60’s pop to afrobeat. The crowd loved it too, applause erupting at every available opportunity, and DP, seemed earnestly gracious for it. The close-out song had to be my favorite though, Knotty Pine,Â from the magnificent “Dark was the Night“(4AD) compilation, was the perfect way to end a great set.