When I first encountered Dirty Projectors as Xiu Xiu's opening act at Little Brother's three years ago, the band was as much a disorienting curveball as a pleasant surprise.

When I first encountered Dirty Projectors as Xiu Xiu's opening act at Little Brother's three years ago, the band was as much a disorienting curveball as a pleasant surprise.

In a tattered T-shirt, lanky, awkward Dave Longstreth bursted with bizarre guitar acrobatics and chirped out equally unusual vocal patterns with the cute hipster girls at his flanks.

Sometimes it was eerie, sometimes academic. (Longstreth is a Yale music school dropout.) Either way, the performance rendered Xiu Xiu's set a gloomy afterthought and stirred my imagination, leaving behind the kind of lasting impression few bands can muster in post-everything pop culture.

Since then Dirty Projectors have continued to confound and inspire, not least with Rise Above, their song-for-song reinterpretation of Black Flag's seminal LP of the same name. With their new Bitte Orca, though, the balance has shifted heavily toward inspiration.

On record and on stage at Bonnaroo last week, Longstreth's latest finds him filtering his wildly unique musical impulses into the most user-ready songs of his career, from the crackling shimmer of "Cannibal Resource" to the unhinged Mariah Carey screams of "Stillness is the Move."

In keeping with most experimental acts who "go pop," the band is still unflinchingly weird - enough to scare away my pals at Bonnaroo after just one song. But those who share Longstreth's smudged vision ought not to miss Dirty Projectors' show with Skeletons at the Wex.