(all photos by Keith Klenowski)
I’m happy to report that I have survived the second day of Big Ears.Â I started off day 2 at the Tennessee Theater to see one of my all-time favorite bands, Dirty Projectors. I fell in love with them when they played at the 2008 MusicNOW Festival and their latest album Bitte Orca was one of my top 5 albums of 2009.
My love for Dirty Projectors is what kept me in my seat during experimental musician/composer William Baskinski’s set.Â “Set” is used loosely considering it was really just one lengthy piece.Â The piece was less a song than an ambient soundscape Baskinski manipulated onstage in front of a video of a hypercolorized cloud.Â I would like to say I enjoyed it or that it was visually or aurally stimulating, but honestly, its meaning escapes me.Â It was beautiful and soothing but I’m not sure if that particular work is appropriate for a live audience.
DJ /rupture soon pulled me out of my sedated state however, leaping into his set by layering string arrangements with spoken word and gypsy music.Â The DJ is internationally known, having performed in over 25 countries and DJ’ed with Norah Jones and the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.Â His set was certainly reflective of his wide range of experiences, pulling vinyl from every genre – Latin, Reggae, Middle Eastern, indie and hip hop, to name a handful.Â My only complaint was that I was itching to dance but it seemed no one felt comfortable dancing in the sit-down theater.
I just glanced at my notes and realized they’re pretty scarce; apparently I was so into the show that I failed to write much down.Â The Brooklyn-based experimental band draws you in immediately with one of its strongest facets – the vocal harmonies of Angel Deradoorian (keyboard, guitar, bass) Amber Coffman (guitar) and Haley Dekle (vocals), which are so tight they threaten to provoke an aneurysm.Â Meanwhile, lead singer Dave Longstreth is always compelling to watch.Â Tall and lanky, Longstreth is reminiscent of David Byrne as he nods and bobs, though his voice and shredding guitar parts definitely set him apart.
Most of Dirty Projectors’ set list came from Bitte Orca (highlights included “Cannibal Resource”, “Temecula Sunrise” and “Two Doves”) though I was happy to see them play a few songs from their less accessible albums like Rise Above, the Black Flag album re-imagined from Longstreth’s memory, and The Getty Address, a concept album about Don Henley.Â They also played “Knotty Pine”, the song they recorded with David Byrne for the Dark Was The Night compilation.Â I hoped that David Byrne would make a surprise appearance (hey, I can dream can’t I?) but alas, it was not to be.Â I also prayed Solange Knowles might join Dirty Projectors onstage when they performed “Stillness is the Move” like she did back in February but that didn’t happen either.Â Whatever, that song is still my jam so I was happy to see it played regardless.
It’s easy for Dirty Projectors to top my personal list of the best shows at Big Ears since they’re one of my favorite bands, but they truly deserve acclaim because they put on an amazing show.Â Stay posted for reviews from the rest of Saturday’s Big Ears experience.