Glad I made it out to Bowery Ballroom last night to see the last show of the Dirty Projectors’ four-night NYC stand. (Thanks again to those who conspired to get me in.)
I saw the show with my brother, who’d been to the previous night’s show at Music Hall as well. Together we’d seen Dave Longstreth play solo (as Dirty Projectors) back in 2003 or 2004, maybe earlier, when he was still working out the songs for The Getty Address. In those pre-Amber, pre-Angel, pre-Haley days it was just Dave, a cassette deck, and a laptop, if I remember right, but you kind of had an idea of how big — operatic, even — the stuff was that was going on inside his head. I don’t think I could have predicted that 5 or 6 years later NYMag would feature him as the centerpiece of the Brooklyn indie renaissance.
Full recap of the show at BV (where I nabbed the pictures above and below, too). Highlights, though: if night 3 of the hometown shows had been a Quaker Meeting, as Dave put it, all enlightenment and joy, night 4 turned out to be a dance party. Tune-Yards, opening, had the crowd in the palm of her hand with a set that helped clarify DP’s own African influences. Then the Projectors by turns rocked out — like choir kids doing Max Tundra tunes without the use of computers — and took some acoustic detours, including “Two Doves” w/ just Dave and Angel, which made me wish they’d gone on to play “Edelweiss.” Near the end of the set, The Roots made a guest appearance, folding the place inside out as they backed Amber’s solo vocals on “Stillness Is the Move.” ?uestlove was sporting a killer Cosby kids T-shirt. When they finished he tossed his sticks into the crowd.
Finally, for the second encore number, David Byrne, who through the whole show had been standing with Cindy Sherman against the wall near the front, like a humble presiding spirit, popped out from the wings to join in on “Knotty Pine,” their great Dark Was The Night collaboration. It’s a tricky song (aren’t they all?) and it seemed like a while since it had been rehearsed, which lent to the fun. Earlier I’d said to Nathan that DP seems to me to be the Talking Heads of his generation. Watching Byrne and Longstreth play off each other only seemed to confirm it.
Afterwards, through scenester cache not my own, we ended up in the green room for a post-show toast. Some kids from SNL were there, and my brother pointed out Michael Azerrad across the room. Years ago I gave my brother MA’s book for Christmas, so we shared a little sentimental fraternal moment over that. The first time I’d been in Bowery’s green room, coincidentally, Cindy Sherman had been introducing the act I was performing with. Crammed together into the room’s doorway, I told her so; she remembered the night, though surely not me in particular. (I was buried deep in the rhythm section, safely behind the star power.) And can I just conclude with an early New Year’s resolution? If I’m ever standing awkwardly in the same hallway with David Byrne again, I won’t chicken out from the chance to introduce myself properly. I kicked myself all the way home.