The energy around Lincoln Hall Thursday night was palpable as the crowd from Dirty Projectors’ early show dispersed and more fans arrived for the second show of the night. Both had sold out weeks ago, and it was clear that those who’d bought tickets had been looking forward to the night for a long time. The venue filled up more quickly than normal, perhaps because of the later start time (inside doors opened at 9:30 pm), but also perhaps because the band has amassed a devoted following since their debut in 2003.
Supporting the Brooklyn band for both shows were the lovely Cross Record, a local band lead by multi-disciplinary artist Emily Cross. She was clearly excited to be opening, but she and guitarist Dan Duszynski were professionals, playing a tight 30 minute set with Cross’ sweet, light vocals bringing to mind Wye Oak and a quieter Torres. The band kept the stage dark for most of their set, ensuring the focus remained fixed on Cross’ voice, and the audience was surprisingly respectful of the quiet. The set ended with a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Don’t You Take it too Bad”, a song Cross said was one of her favorites.
Dirty Projectors’ 10 years as a band was evident as soon as they started setting up. I was impressed by the overall amount of things and people they were able to fit on Lincoln Hall’s relatively small stage. Having just finished a tour opening for The National, they’re probably used to having a bit more space, but they handled it well.
The band opened with the title track from their most recent full-length album, last year’s great Swing Lo Magellan, and quickly followed with “Offspring Are Blank”. Vocalist/guitarist Dave Longstreth paused to introduce the band, thank Cross Record, and call out a guy in the front row for vogueing during “Offspring are Blank”. Longstreth put on a great performance, using the whole stage to dance, jump around and generally act like a rock star during the band’s more upbeat songs. His performance was offset by vocalist Amber Coffman, who was immensely professional and seemed to do her best to ignore shouts of “marry me Amber” and “get it guurl” from the audience throughout the set.
The setlist was made up primarily of songs from Swing Lo Magellan, but the band reached into its extensive library for a few popular songs, like the excellent “Stillness is the Move”, which they played in their encore. The band played until past midnight, pretty late for a school night, but the audience remained engrossed throughout the whole set, screaming “please come back” both before and after the encore, and lingering in the venue after the house lights had come up, perhaps hoping the band might come back out for one more song. It was a slightly older crowd, incredibly respectful through the entire night (I didn’t see nearly as many phones light up as in some other shows), and they knew every word to every song.
Overall it was a great set, paced well to keep the energy in the room up for the entire performance without wearing people out, and technically well-produced, especially considering the complexity of many of the band’s songs.