Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe my shoes were too tight, maybe it was the hyperactive young lads in front of me air-drumming all night but Dirty Projectors never really scaled any great heights for me last night. Of course, maybe it was the fact that support act tUnE-YaRdS was so enthralling that I failed to really get into the main act. Merrill Garbus came onstage to a decent-sized crowd and quickly captured everyone’s attention with her seemingly instinctive, but meticulously pieced together loops of percussion and vocals. There were certainly more than a few people stood around in Whelan’s who were unsure of what to make of her eccentric little tunes and startling vocals but, despite her comment about nobody knowing her stuff, there seemed to be quite a few of us around that were familiar with the material from her hot-off-the-presses debut album Bird Brains. She definitely won over quite a few new fans judging by the sales of the album later in the night too.
There’s strong similarities in the way that tUnE-YaRdS and Dirty Projectors construct their songs live, with the latter piecing together scrappy riffs and beats into exhilerating combinations. The band have an impressive confidence and elasticity to the way they jam out the tracks from Bitte Orca. With the venue now packed and every member of the audience seemingly perving on one of the band, they continue to demonstrate their collective skills with David Longstreth’s solos sounding like a computer trying to play guitar and the three girls adding impossibly dizzying harmonies. But somehow it never really took off for me. Sure, songs like “Stillness is the Move”, “The Bride” and “Knotty Pine” were wondrous to observe, but it all sort of felt like a demonstration of how good a band they are rather than any kind of celebration of the fact. It’s either that or I’m a miserable, picky auld bastard.
I wasn’t really taking photos at the gig, but there’s a few quick snaps below and here.