With no pre-purchased tickets in hand, we decided to check out the Dirty Projectors at the small stage of the Melkweg on a quiet Tuesday evening. Despite being there at our regular time, just after doors opening, there were literally only 5 other people there. This was either going to be an incredibly small crowd, or we had just failed part one of the hipster test, being fashionably late.
And as we bantered with the merch guy, we stuck to the traditional topics and asked how the tour had been? Apparently it had been good, that was one man’s opinion, and we were keen to see if we would share the same feelings at the end of the night.
Very slowly a crowd started to gather and fill the downstairs section of the room. It was easy to see that not only had we failed test one, but we had quickly failed tests two and three as well. None of our clothes has been purchased second hand or stolen from homeless people and our combined efforts of Gn’R and Jack White t-shirts were never going to sit well in this crowd.
If these people were any more hipster, the band may well think they had not actually left Brooklyn.
That being said, this would not change our opinion of the band, after all the band is the band and they can’t choose their fans. But still, this gives you a good feel for the atmosphere, which was all about listening, nodding, minimal applause and then wondering if your friend had seen you enact the last few motions……
So, I can hear all of you thinking, get to the damn point, what was the show like?
Well they were all perfect, a little on the artistic side, but that’s what you get from time to time. Here is a group of people who are not in the mainstream, and not 100% artistic either. And from the musical perspective there were times when they sounded kind of like a couple of other bands or artists, Wilco, and maybe a little Tuneyards esk, and yes there was a tad of St. Vincent. All of these bands are good in their own right.
The problem was, after a few songs you realized that even though they may not have picked them, the band was a lot like their audience. At first you were distracted by unusual sounds, layered vocals and the sheer number of band members on stage. Not to mention the little gimmicks, such as playing a right handed guitar left handed (and upside down). But once you had grown accustomed to it, there didn’t feel like a lot of substance behind it.
And if substance wasn’t what they were going for, then it also isn’t particularly good pop. This was already evident during the day of the show, when the only song Jason managed to sing after he listened to the most played 58 songs from the Dirty Projectors, was a song from Andrew Bird about a lonely projector. The writing was clearly on the wall.
It didn’t matter too much anyway because well into the first half of the show security finally saw our t-shirts and regular fitting jeans and asked us to leave. Clearly we were not the kind of people the band wanted to be associated with.
The fact that we were in the closed upstairs sections may have also contributed to this. Yes, that’s right, they are so cool, they don’t even need to sell out the small stage at Melkweg.
But to cut a long story short, we lost interest and went for a beer elsewhere. The show was probably the coolest gig in Amsterdam for 2012, unfortunately we were just not cool enough to get it.
JV & JP