One of the most beautiful buildings on the Los Angeles landscape, downtown’s Frank Gehry-designed, mirror-finish monolith Walt Disney Hall has hosted multiple indie-artist-with-orchestra one-off concerts since its inception in 2003, featuring the Philharmonic-backed likes of Cornelius, Plaid, Antony & The Johnsons, the Airborne Toxic Event, Grizzly Bear, and M83. This past Saturday the Hall hosted another musical milestone event, when Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors joined forces with the 20-piece New York chamber orchestra Alarm Will Sound to perform the Projectors’ Don Henley-namechecking concept album/rock opera about modern materialism, The Getty Address. It was one of the Hall’s most ambitious indie-rock endeavors yet.
After the L.A. Philharmonic opened the show with a 45-minute performance featuring pieces handpicked by the Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth, and led by Philharmonic conductor Diego Matheuz and featuring piano soloist John Orfe, the Projectors mysteriously shuffled onto the acoustically perfect Disney Hall stage shrouded in primary-colored Robin Hood capes. Then, for the next hour, band leader Longstreth and woodnymph-like female sirens Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Haley Dekle cooed and cawed almost animalistically, primally, through the Getty Address song cycle, “examining the question of what is wilderness in a world completely circumscribed by highways, once Manifest Destiny has no place to go.”
So yeah, not your typical indie-rock gig, then.
And all the while, they were backed by Alarm Will Sound’s densely layered brass, strings, woodwinds, percussion, and sometimes literal bells and whistles. The sonic effect was actually overwhelming–in a good way–to the point where spectators nearly nodded off in their Hall seats, lulled and hypnotized by the echoing eerie and exotic sounds emanating from the circular stage.
For the much sparser encore, the group reappeared orchestra-free to perform a short acoustic set that included a cover of Bob Dylan‘s “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine”–after which Longstreth revealed that, due to weather-related flight cancellations, the Dirty Projectors almost didn’t make it to L.A. for this event. And that would have been a dirty shame. This evening was truly special.
All live photos by Sung Kim