Friday, 3 April 2009

I attempt to write the worst review ever

Dirty Projectors w/ Polar Bear and Lucky Dragons
The Mint Lounge, Manchester

Pre-gig Tribulations:

1) Anxiety caused by suspicion that event is an elaborate April Fools.

2) Anxiety caused by jibe delivered by rejected drug dealer encountered during queuing process: "you're all boring."

3) Anxiety caused by prospect of having to leave halfway through Dirty Projectors' set to catch last train home.


It's never been harder (for me) to have a good time.

Hard, but not impossible. Once I’d confirmed to my own satisfaction that the gig was indeed real, courtesy of a quick inspection of the venue (which exposed the presence of at least one Dirty Projector), and established a contingency plan for the late-running scenario, it was only the accusation of boringness that remained. Still, it troubled me more deeply than its compatriots.

I began to inspect my fellow attendees, trying to gauge how boring they were, in the hope that this would give me some insight into my own condition; my findings were mixed, but there did appear to be a surprisingly high level of boringness in the room, far higher than seemed appropriate for such a hot gig. Unless, I realised with horror, the hotness of the gig was a delusion of my own boring mind—was it possible that I had been tricked by the malign spirits of consumer culture into thinking that my tastes were relevant and lively when they were really no more than the carefully engineered impulses of a brain in a jar? Was I no better than a U2 fan? This prospect chilled me to the core, but I soon rallied when I realised that a boring person, a truly boring person, would no sooner recognise his own boringness than would a tree or stone (i.e. being boring involves a whole different paradigm of consciousness, in which self-awareness has no place).

Nor would this hypothetical boring person be disappointed with the output of the night’s first support act, Lucky Dragons, as I was. Well, that’s not necessarily so; such a person would probably have a near limitless capacity for being bored by things: the great works of cinema, literature and the visual arts; the physical act of love—each would bore him in equal measure (while, conversely, a showing of Talladega Nights would send him into hysterics). But, like the proverbial stopped clock, once in a while his response would be appropriate, and Lucky Dragons are a case in point. I maintain, however, that the boredom I experienced during the performance (which consisted of primitivist, droney-loopy noises, reminiscent of things I’d been bored by two or three years before) was in fact the natural response of a lively and agile mind.

Polar Bear were another matter. Jazzy and rocky without being a jazz-rock band in the traditional sense (in that they were oriented towards the jazz side, which is infinitely more appealing), they seemed agreeable enough; had I not been sitting down to rest (and to discuss the best means by which one may establish a career in The Media) I imagine that I would have enjoyed them quite a lot. As it was, I let their performance pass by without notice, as though it were an attractive woman I’d spotted across the room but had decided not to bother introducing myself to because that almost always just leads to a brief, awkward and self-esteem-sapping conversation, after which you never see her again.

Happily, my second-set nap left me sufficiently energised to make my way to the front for the headliners, which paid off to the tune of spades. Newly embiggened by the additions of bassist Nat Baldwin and backing vocalist Haley Dekle (who is in dire need of having-a-cool-name lessons from her colleagues Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian), the Dirty Projectors are now 50% more raucous (although 75% of that increase is down to the Tourette’s-like performance of “musical director” Dave Longstreth).

Like Deerhoof, DPs operate in a realm of octopodial tightness, where each member (or limb) of the band appears to have absolute mastery of his or her movements, but isn’t necessarily interested in coordinating them with those of everyone else (this goes double for Longstreth). The upshot is that their gigs descend into mere anarchy once in a while (I guess even octopods can’t be on top of things 24/7), but when everything comes together it feels like a miraculous event. Happily, such events occur with relative frequency, and the band’s enthusiasm makes even the most ramshackle passages seem compelling.

The set mainly consisted of material from the forthcoming Bitte Orca LP, which sounds like it’s going to expand on the ex-anarcho-punk-goes-Afro-pop stylings of Rise Above. Only three older tracks made it in: “Fucked for Life” from the New Attitude EP; “”Depression” from Rise Above; and “Knotty Pine,” the David Byrne collaboration written for the latest Dark Was the Night charity compilation. These were received with greater and greater shows of appreciation from the audience, who whooped and howled like happy jackals, and even did a little torso-dancing (which is something even happy jackals can’t do).

I left the venue almost immediately upon the performance’s conclusion, pausing only to gaze lovingly at Miss Deradoorian while she manned (in the most delightful and feminine fashion) the merchandise counter. There was happiness all around me, but was it merely the happiness of dullards? Of pigs with full bellies and empty heads? I couldn’t say for sure, although I suspected that it was. I smiled to myself and tried in vain to think of some Nietzsche I could quote, then began the journey home. Back to the attic of my parents’ house. Back to computer games and internet porn. Back to never speaking to a living soul. SO LONG SUCKERS.

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