July 17: Dirty Projectors, Atlas Sound
Andi and I headed from her pleasant apartment in East Atlanta to Flat Shoals for Thai before the show on a beautiful and surprisingly cool (for Atlanta) summer evening, so we walked around as long as possible, or so we thought. After they let us in, there was a long delay, which turned out to be because The Dirty Projectors were still en route from Baton Rouge. Finally, Altas Sound opened the show with a five song set that surprised mainly because angel-voiced Bradford Cox (Deerhunter) added a band (three Selmanaires) two days before and they managed to crunch out a fine country-laced set, departing from Bradford's more electronic Atlas Sound peregrinations. Listen to their set here. We both liked the effort, which I likened to country Radiohead and she compared to early Travis, if that tells you anything. These are definitely worth downloading, even if the band isn't as polished as it will be by the time they tour in support of the forthcoming Logos EP. Bradford played with the confidence and panache of a salsa champion and the band couldn't help but follow his lead, even if there was a misstep here and there.
Dirty Projectors, I'm gonna say it, sound better live than on the record, a fascinating listen regardless, but the studio makes it, well, more studied. Or as another attendee put it, "they were sick. and he sounded more real than i imagined. and they were fabulous." I agree. Live, the timing and precision of vocalists Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and recent addition Haley Dekle arrested and amazed. The effect was most eerie on an extended version of "Remade Horizon," when they traded notes so quickly and flawlessly, they sounded as one perfect instrument. I was reminded of a lecture by Brian Eno I attended at Berkeley years ago, when he talked at one point about working with David Bowie for Low, describing how he assembled a "guitar solo" from notes played individually (yes, simple now because of his work). Eno admitted he was amazed when Adrian Bellew learned to play the impossible solo for the Stage tour, which I caught in Oakland. Theirs was a more impressive accomplishment, their living voices magnified and compelled one to thoughts of spirituality.* Andi and I just looked at each other, awestruck. Yes, they arrived late, road weary, and Haley was sick, so it might have been excusable for Dave and Co. to phone it in, but the music took over and they played with energy and enthusiasm, working mainly through Bitte Orca featuring Dave Longstreth's high capoed Afro-Carribean guitar licks and unusual time signatures pinned down effectively by Brian and Nat, but they also included selections from earlier works, like "Rise Above" and a strong David Byrneless version of "Knotty Pine." "Musical Director" and Yale-alum (Did you know him, Liz?) Dave Longstreth's vocals were unusually measured, but clear and emotive, and his stage presence was relaxed. He was clearly enjoying himself, joking at one point about the stresses of the road on bands (Amber rolled her eyes), and they stopped to announce that it was Angel's "18th" birthday, and we all sang to her, so I suppose all of us there can claim to have sung (sloppily, to be sure) with the Dirty Projectors.
*Of course, this was The Earl, and recognizing the aforementioned spirituality for some (like me) meant setting down the beer and saying, "Oh, shit,"or, in the manner of the tilting girl in front of us, throwing up in her cup and passing out while her boyfriend propped her up because he lacked the decency to take her home ("Hey, I paid for this"). Unfortunately, Andi stepped in it, so we didn't get to hang out much after the show, one worth being relatively sober for given the complexity of the music and the consummate effort of the musicians this cool summer night.
July 22, 24: Locally
Back home, I stood on a log over the pond behind my house between a hunting rat snake in front of me and a young hawk, landing awkwardly just behind me. The snake looked at me and crawled on slowly, while the hawk finally heeded the parental squawk and flew back up. I hopped off the log, walked inside, thinking of this, reflecting on Amy's brief visit. She left before the show at the Bleu Pub that night, which was a good one.
Atlanta's The Wild, on tour with Pedals on our Pirate Ships, opened with an enthusiastic set of songs from their new self-titled EP. They play joyous clear-eyed folk punk and covered a Mountain Goats song. Locals No More Analog played next, and they continue getting tighter and have developed a singular voice. I think they're ready to record and tour seriously. Pedals played a bicycle friendly and active set, and Trailer of Tears finished up late, getting ready for their Friday show in Gainesville with the Virgins (of Richmond, not New York) and the Takers.
At Common Ground, Trailers played a nasty set of their unique neo-glam doo-wop and the Takers followed later with a straight-up country rock set that would sit well on the shelf next to Lucero and Drive-by Truckers any day. I drove the church van back all night, as I won (lost?) the sobriety contest, and the boys (Jeffrey, Bobby, Jason, and Taylor) and me and Wayne and Coody and Jessie played name-a-band-that-begins-with-the-last-letter-of-the-previous-band-name (usually S or R) until the morning. It was a fun trip.
Locally, as fall approaches, there appears to be a venue crisis, as all the house-show holders moved to apartments and Vito's moved from the haunted house to a more upscale location not suited to live music. The Bleu Pub and Jack's shed (and occasionally Sur Este) is all that's left, and that means the local scene is in serious need of a new playground.