Music Reviews — 15 September 2010
Experimenting with Indie Rock: The Dirty Projectors at Terminal 5

I like music.  I also love concerts.  I read up on artists, I’ve been to festivals, I’ve travelled for bands, I sing as loud as I can when I drive my car.  I love the energy, the passion, everything.  Which is why I am absolutely baffled by both the popularity and critical acclaim for indie rock bands.  It seems the only bands that get any real recognition use 80′s style synthesizers or manage to fit eleven men and women on a stage too small, playing every imaginable instrument, sounding like a garbled avant-garde performance.  Both of which completely disinterest me.  Understandably though, music happens to be incredibly subjective and thus unbelievably polarizing.  But I just don’t get it.

“I’m 28.  I’m in my prime,” I reason to myself.  “I read Spin magazine and try to keep up with pop culture.  Heck, I watch Entourage.”  But somehow, this music is lost on me.  For the sake of this flourishing website, which we are so fortunate enough to have you reading, I decided to throw caution to the wind and scoop up a pair of tickets to a local indie band that I’d never listened to, and who seems to receive praise from local press.  With that in mind, I ventured to a sold out Terminal 5 this past weekend to check out The Dirty Projectors.  If you’ve never heard of them, don’t be alarmed.  I really haven’t either.  But they are opening for Phoenix at Madison Square Garden next month, and they seem to be highly praised by said Spin Magazine.  So what’s the harm in trying something new?

After an afternoon of shooting an upcoming Web Shot, a pal and I headed all the way over to the west side and strolled right into the venue.  The band has a strong local following, since they are Brooklyn-bred and the passionate fans were out and supportive for the relatively underground band.  Inside, the place was packed in pretty good and we arrived shortly before 10pm, just as the lights dimmed for the band to emerge.  The stage setup was minimal, with the backdrop being a white movie screen pulled down with a blue and pink lighted blurb on each side.

The band came out to a strong ovation and jumped right into their opener without so much as an acknowledgment.  To this point we were digging the vibe inside, as we can appreciate such a loyal, supportive group of music fans.  But when the music started, we became increasingly disinterested.  The sound and spacing inside the venue itself was fantastic- with plenty of room to move around, an outdoor roof deck with bar and grill, and plenty of places throughout to grab drinks.  Clearly when you go to a concert and the music becomes secondary to exploring the virtues of the venue, the band failed to keep our focus.  Not to claim that the band itself was bad or that the fans didn’t enjoy the show, but again, I for one simply didn’t “get it.”  The two female vocalists performed with high pitched shrieks and those, coupled with sharp, meandering guitar riffs seemed a little off kilter and off beat as I failed to find a rhythm to bop around to.  Maybe I was the only one, as fans were huddled on the ground upstairs, trying to catch a glimpse of the stage as the set wore on.

The problem is- I want to be in the know.  I really want to see what all the fuss is about and I really want to like these bands.  But I don’t see it.  I don’t get what the big deal is.  My body moved around uncomfortably for about 45 minutes of the set as I looked around, trying to blend in.  But I didn’t and I couldn’t.  The band is labeled as indie or experimental rock.  For me, the experiment failed.   I just don’t get this music.

-  Jane Van Arsdale

The Dirty Projectors- Live at Terminal 5
September 11, 2010
(Courtesy of

1. F**ked for Life
2. No Intention
3. I Will Truck
4. Knotty Pine
5. Wittenberg VI
6. The Bride
7. Police Story
8. Two Doves
9. Temecula Sunrise
10. As I Went Out One Morning
11. Imagine It
12. Remade Horizon
13. Stillness is the Move
14. Useful Chamber
15. Cannibal Resource
16. Fluorescent Half Dome
17. Rise Above

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Interestingg critique about something new. Perhaps it is something that might be new and upcoming, we shall see. Anyway it was a solid informative article and you seem to have good conviction and expressed what u liked and disliked.