NYC Immersion Roundup: The Dirty Projectors at Carnegie Hall

The Brooklyn-based indie-rock band returns to Manhattan with some strings attached, courtesy of the classical music sextet yMusic.

The 120-year-old Carnegie Hall has an imposing presence that tends to hang over many artists who perform on the Ronald O. Perelman Stage. The decade-old experimental rock group Dirty Projectors was no exception, and stood in stark contrast to the aging venue during their show on Friday Jan. 11. Even with their performance bolstered by a group of classical musicians, the band’s odd arrangements and offbeat time signatures often came off sounding alien within a venue that historically hosted many classical music performances.Dirty Projectors performing in 2012 in Santiago, Chile. Photo by Alvaro Farfan.

Ironically, the show began on a more traditional note, with the classical music sextet yMusic opening the show with five compositions. “Music In Circles” was a set highlight, with its screeching strings and ominous atmosphere previewing some of the sounds they would employ later while accompanying Dirty Projectors.

The show was the latest installment in the series “Wordless Music,” which attempts to subvert genre restrictions by pairing classical instrumental music with popular rock and electronic artists. In this spirit, yMusic punctuated most of Dirty Projectors’ performance with arrangements that helped bring new dimension to the songs they were involved in. Those songs, such as “Gun Has No Trigger,” were obvious highlights in the set.

With his warbly voice and tall, mantis-like stage presence, frontman David Longstreth led the band through songs from their newest album Swing Lo Magellan, as well as their About To Die EP and their 2009 album Bitte Orca. Some of the best performances of the night, however, came from Mount Wittenberg Orca, the band’s 2010 collaboration with Bjork. Surprise guest and ex-Dirty Projector Angel Deradoorian joined the band for these performances, adding her soaring voice to the impressive female vocals in the band, provided by guitarist Amber Coffman, keyboardist Olga Bell and Haley Dekle. It was only through their harmonies that Dirty Projectors produced a grand, elegant sound that seemed to fit the prestigious venue.

The photo above is courtesey of Alvaro Farfan, and used under a creative commons license

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