Dirty Projectors/Dan Deacon @ Masonic Temple, Brooklyn 12/11/08

Photos by Ben Shapiro
The big news, and ostensibly the big draw, for the show last Thursday at Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple was Dan Deacon’s headlining, public reinvention from banana-iPod-armed hipster pied piper to conductor of a 14-piece ensemble, with the unveiling of select works from his forthcoming Bromst album. But in the near freezing temps and gusty, pelting rain, the big news and certainly the big draw personally was the promise of new tunes from the forthcoming, recently Progress Reported Dirty Projectors LP.

That was an unfulfilled promise, unfortunately: the nine-song set offered a pared down selection of the songs filling Dave Longstreth et al’s setlists for the past 15 months, a mix of standouts from their remembered Black Flag reinvention Rise Above (“Police Story,” “Thirsty & Miserable” “Gimme Gimme Gimmie,” the gorgeous title track, take your pick really) and rearranged deep cuts from its preceding New Attitude EP (“Imagine It,” “Fucked For Life”). In fairness there were songs previously unreleased (though not previously unheard), like “New Attitude Will Come” (the soundtrack to our New Year’s Eve ’07) and the excellently sunny, artfully dodging “Sunrise” (making setlists throughout the year: MHOW, Southstreet Seaport, P4K Fest, shows I didn’t go to, etc.). The band had just driven from Portland where they’ve been working on keeping their tour van in shape and making that new record, and the new sounds weren’t quite ready for consumption.

Despite waiting for songs that would never come, the set of snaking and thrashing, spiraling and sublime avant-rock was typically tight and ferociously on point, even if the finer points of the band’s intertwining harmonic and instrumental interaction were somewhat swallowed by the room’s resonant boom. Dirty Projectors are one of the few bands worth the trip every time out, whether just crushing their catalogue or making something transcendent of it. If you need Need Year’s plans, you’d do well to spend it with them at Knitting Factory. Spoken from experience.

Deacon’s set started late, Dan humorously calling it a “nightmare” before it’d even started, straining to manage the dueling logistics of his usual table of pedals (trippy green skull, check) and the many “actual living humans” onstage behind him. Well, onstage above him; even in this role as conductor and composer, Deacon was more comfortable set up on the floor, waving at his band from below, occasionally climbing up to join them on mic and at a laptop. The set was half iPod and half ensemble by declaration upfront. I have friends who’d spoken highly of some of Dan’s projects while he was enrolled at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College (his concentration was composition), and I enjoyed Spiderman Of The Rings, so hopes were high.

Deacon’s congregation featured members of the opening outfit So Percussion, and fittingly the end result was (so) percussion and electro heavy: the bulk of Dan’s ensemble holding mallets/sticks or lined up behind an array of synthesizers, Bromst offering deeper and more deliberate dance beats than Spiderman while still retaining some of that album’s quirk and whimsy (if not its breakneck dayglo tempos). Attention spans drifted — the set ended with fewer people on hand than for Dirty Projectors’ set — as did some of the material, which often stretched promising seeds into same-y, vocal-sample-and-glockenspiel laced drum circle jams. Concision’s a tough get when trying to manage 14 people who’d just met two days prior (see the video below), so although the set was uneven, Bromst’s still got promise. If you want more, the New York Times was on hand to discuss the show in terms of Steve Reich, and MTV spent some time learning about Bromst in this vid:

All photos by Ben Shapiro…

DIRTY PROJECTORS

DIRTY PROJECTORS SETLIST:
01 “Police Story”
02 “Fucked For Life”
03 “Gimme Gimme Gimme”
04 “Sunrise”
05 “Depression”
06 “New Attitude Will Come”
07 “Imagine It”
08 “Thirsty & Miserable”
09 “Rise Above”

DAN DEACON & ENSEMBLE