Dave Longstreth has a weird body and good style. Performing last night with his group Dirty Projectors he wore an oversized purple sweatshirt, swathed himself in it, pulled the hood down around his chest so that it looked between a shawl and a baby carrier. He’s a lefty playing an upside down guitar with a right-angled crooked wrist. He’s got a boney face, a long neck that he uses to jut it, a late 20s/early 30s devil-lock and a band of a fast and electronic drummer and two choral women to back and boost him in his swirly quest to mimic and pastiche Black Flag’s Damaged.
One of our most ecstatic musical moments of the year was watching Dirty Projectors late last winter and realizing the lyrics from one of the songs were the lyrics from “Rise Above” and then realizing the lyrics for the next song were the lyrics from “Thirsty and Miserable” and then realizing all of the lyrics from all of the songs were from Damaged and then have this silent, solo epiphany of genius. It’s a bizarre thing, then, that squeegee voice and plinky plucks mapped onto early 80’s hardcore have filled the Bowery Ballroom (to the band, too; bassist Angel Deradoorian responded blankly to a crowd shout that Dirty Projectors are awesome by telling the audience “You are awesome.”). But it did, which is mostly okay. Not to get all “We liked Green Day when they were on Lookout!” but it was bizarre to watch such tidy and intimate music in such a congested setting. It didn’t make it any less good, certainly, just more out. Longstreth has such a unique and gangly presence, and both women voices quell any commotion being so bilaterally calm. But to have them all compete with big body heat, headbangers hitting us in the head and a shitty heckler (shut the fuck up dude; there is a reason they are on stage and not you) was unfortunate. But, shit, Dirty Projectors are a happy anomaly and if people are trying to mosh when they play, do your thing because they’re definitely doing theirs.