4/2/09: Dirty Projectors @ Scala, London (70/100)

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Happy Birthday to me. What a great way to spend my 33rd, in two countries. The first half of the day in Paris, walking around the Montmartre district with Sunshine, taking in the views of Paris up at the Basilica du Sacre-Coeur. Then back to London in time to throw back pints in the Clerkenwell neighborhood, and pop over for a sold out Dirty Projectors show at Scala.

Sunshine and I had half a day left in Paris in the morning. Our train wasn’t until 3pm, so we got up early and rushed out to Montmartre to climb steep staircases like this:

Which meant I could reward myself with a delicious crepe, like this:

Oh, and we got views like this:

Basically we squeezed as much out of Paris as we could, then got on the train and were back in London by the evening. It’s so weird/awesome how quickly you can go between two completely different countries. Just a few hours before, I was trying to figure out in my head how to communicate without speaking the language, then I was back in a place where the only real language difference is my accent.

We got back, threw down our bag, changed clothes, and headed out to The Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell. Sunshine’s friend Tobi was celebrating her birthday as well, so we tagged my birthday drinks onto hers. Sunshine’s friends Russell and Tijs joined us for drinks and treated us to pizza for my birthday (thanks Tijs), before heading to Scala for the show.

We arrived just as Dirty Projects went on stage. Another super packed, sold out show The venue seems like an old theater that was a bit of a maze to navigate. But a cool spot nonetheless. We found our way to the balcony, stepped on about a million people’s feet (at least, I did), and finally battled our way down to the left side of the stage. I could see ok from where we were, but wasn’t satisfied. So I do the really pleasant rock show thing and pushed my way up to the front. Which was easier than you’d think at a sold out show. Then I realize why.

I was standing directly in front of the enormous house speakers. These things were so huge I could actually feel the air released from every beat of the bassdrum. Thankfully I had my heavy duty earphones in (at least, I hope they’re heavy duty).I snapped off some shots, then headed back to an audibly safe distance.

Dirty Projectors are the brainchild of Dave Longstreth, “a former student of music composition at Yale University who left his studies to pursue a full-time career in music.” — according to Wikipedia. (I didn’t feel like rephrasing that). Longstreth is the conductor, and performing the music with him are three women, and two other men. If you’ve never heard them, I can see them being hard to get. They’re a bit avant-garde. And, despite that they’re a 6-piece, their sound is pretty sparse. They don’t follow traditional song structures, and there aren’t “normal” melodies – but they definitely have their own sound.

Here’s a taste:


I knew what to expect, so I was excited. I wouldn’t say they are my favorite band, but I like them. I appreciate how different they are, and find it refreshing. The crowd was loving every second – calling out requests. It’s not a show you dance to or mosh to or anything like that, but you can definitely see and feel the connection with the audience.

They played till right up to 11pm, came out for a one song encore, and that was that (I’m still surprised at how punctual each of the shows have been in London). Sunshine and I somehow found our way through the maze of stairs at Scala, headed toward the tube, and called it a night. All in all, not a bad way to grow one day older.

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