Show Review: Dirty Projectors with J. Tillman at Brookdale Inn and Spa, 9/26/2010

by Gordon Elgart on September 27, 2010


As I was driving down the windy Bear Creek Lane toward Brookdale, California, it got headlights dark. It was daylight, still, but the sunlight was completely obscured by trees. It was a bit creepy. And I passed yet another sign warning me of more windy roads ahead, and yet another hairpin turn, I thought that this crazy drive through the Santa Cruz Mountains had better be worth the effort. You see, (((FolkYeah!))) has this habit of throwing really cool events in out-of-the-way places, and tonight they were presenting the Dirty Projectors “with special guest” in a room whose claim to fame is that “a river runs through it.” I just had to see it for myself.

When we got there, I asked the people inside who was opening, and I was told it was J. Tillman. Now that’s a pretty excellent get for a Sunday night in the middle of the forest, so that increased my excitement. The room itself was hidden behind doors from which was coming a faint purple glow. Lots of old black and white photos strewn about the lobby of the motel showed jazz bands sitting on an elevated stage among rocks and trees and a running creek. Could this be where I was about to go? The bar at the motel was doing brisk business, and my friend starting referring to the gathering as “Dirty Projectors camp.” This was surely rustic.


The doors opened up, and when we finally got inside after waiting in line, J. Tillman was already singing his beautiful songs. He sat up on the stage, alone with his guitar, with the sound of running water providing a real campfire feel to the whole thing. As there’s no traditional dance floor to speak of, people were gathered on bridges, on rocks, sitting on the floor, up in the balcony. Just wherever anyone could be, there they were. What an experience!


By the time Dirty Projectors came on stage, I was already in love with the venue, and frankly anyone could have walked out onto the odd balcony, and I would have thought about how cool it was to be seeing them in such a place. So the fact that it was a band that exists in some sort of post-genre, song-free existence, doing exercises of harmony and tempo like high divers with an insane degree of difficulty, just added to the mood. It was as if they just appeared above a bunch of people standing in a magical wood and started playing otherworldly music. The audience watched the whole thing in stunned silence, and you could hear the sounds of the rushing waters between songs as opposed to the idle chatter and clinking glassware of a standard nightclub.


This is a special place to see a show. I’ll take that windy road any time.


For a more traditional review of a Dirty Projectors show, you can read our review from Saturday night’s show at The Fillmore. For more on J. Tillman, you can read about when Caroline caught up with him late last year.

Otherwise I leave you with the splashy marquee of the Brookdale Inn and Spa.


Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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