Show Review: The Dirty Projectors, Wye Oak at The Fox Theater, 7/28/12

by Stephanie Skidmore on August 2, 2012

All Photos by Dakin Hardwick

No Two Doves. They didn’t play Two Doves! Two years ago my compadre (from here on out known as The Editor) tried to convince me to see Dirty Projectors at the Fillmore. I bailed on him for Vampire Weekend, Beach House, and The Very Best at the Greek (I don’t think that was a complete fail, one band with harmonies and African beats for another. And fun fact! According to Wikipedia, Ezra once played sax for Dirty Projectors!). The point of this rambling intro being that my only knowledge of Dirty Projectors was their song Two Doves, a lovely but slow emotional song. Not something I’d want to spend all night listening to. In other words, I was an idiot.

So this time, after some more research, I accepted El Editoro’s invitation to see the band at The Fox Theater in Oakland. After all they serve some tasty nachos at the Fox.

Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak

Planning to be there with enough time to stuff my face with chips and salsa, also meant we arrived well in time for the opener of the night, Wye Oak. They put on a great show. But while their sound seemed large enough to fill the theater, the atmosphere they created did not. And their plodding bass lines and mellow sound did little to rev up the crowd. Great sound, just not for that night.

After a short break, we finally got what we came for (besides the nachos). Just like I had been pleasantly surprised, if not stunned, by the intricate harmonies and melodic changes on Dirty Projector’s latest album Swing Lo Magellan, I was equally plussed by the energetic show they put on.

Amber Coffman (the lady who sings that Two Doves song) may not be the lead of the band, but she quickly stood out as its star. Her captivating voice, which can sound somewhat small on record, boomed with range and precision whenever she was tasked with soloing. Her harmonies with Haley Dekle and Olga Bell were equally impressive.

David Longstreth, who is the brains behind the operation, led the band through each song, knowing when to step back and let the others shine, but also knowing how to wow the crowd with his own unique voice and guitar skills. Whatever crazy vision is rattling around inside his head, I’m glad he has the patience (and musicians) to make it a reality.

Now I could sit here and continue to write this glowing review, and you’d probably be all “Yeah great, you enjoyed it. Tell me more about those nachos.” Well friend, they were delicious. But let me just back my review up by saying, a great show is nothing without that buzz of excitement that comes from the crowd. This crowd did not disappoint. There was fist pumping, noodling, dancing, hugging, and I’m pretty sure one dude next to me was so inspired he began writing poetry. I really am not creative enough to make this stuff up. It ran the spectrum, but it made the experience of seeing such a fun band even better.

So all around great show. But no Two Doves! You should really check that song out though, it’s great. And then make sure to familiarize yourself with the rest of their excellent catalog. In other words, don’t be an idiot.

Setlist:

Swing Lo Magellan
Offspring Are Blank
About to Die
See What She Seeing
The Socialites
Cannibal Resource
Gun Has No Trigger
No Intention
Beautiful Mother
Maybe That Was It
Just From Chevron
Useful Chamber
Unto Caesar

Dance for You
Stillness is the Move
Impregnable Question

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