Coming just two days after the release of their latest record, Dirty Projectors were in Columbus on their new album tour. That new release, Swing Lo Magellan, is fantastic and comes as the followup to the equally brilliant Bitte Orca. But there’s seemingly a great deal of studio tweaking necessary to make the songs work; I was excited to see the band but skeptical about how their sound would translate to the live setting.
Astonishingly, nothing was lost. Tight drums and a powerful bass drove the rhythm as cascading guitars played around the odd time signatures and song structures. Simply from a technical perspective, the instrumental work alone was outstanding. On wild, shifty songs like “Useful Chamber,” the progression was fluid and never felt forced.
But the real highlights of the show were the jaw-dropping vocal performances by frontman David Longstreth, lead female voice Amber Coffman, and the backing vocalists. Their tones were spot-on and the harmonies simply unbelievable in when heard in person. The layers of singing, the vocal acrobatics, and the precise timing required were all the more impressive on top of the dynamic Dirty Projector tracks.
The band leaned heavily on material from their newest record (with good reason) to great results. Lead single “Gun Has No Trigger” retained all of its mesmerizing power, while heartfelt moments like “Impregnable Question” and “Dance For You” felt even more immediate. The group’s (relatively) recent move toward more accessible music has resulted in a rewarding live set that is at once artistically impressive and simply fun to hear. Be sure to check out Dirty Projectors when they come near you this summer. They’re well worth your time.
(But as a note: be sure to check for the opener and pack some earplugs if it’s Psychic Paramount. They were an excellent three piece instrumental noise-rock group with outstanding compositions, but their massive volume bordered on painful at times.)