While many critics accuse indie rock bands of drawing on too many esoteric references, a few artists are turning to America’s new pop music, contemporary soul and R&B, for inspiration. It’s easy to be skeptical of white dudes trying to sound like Amerie, but when confronted with this music live this past Tuesday at Sneaky Dee’s, it’s hard not to feel that these guys might be on to something.

After an entertaining set by local electronic musician, Nif-D—one of these “indie R&B” bands—No Kids, took the stage. Three-quarters of defunct Vancouver band Piano, No Kids played pleasant pop ditties that would have been unremarkable if it weren’t for lead vocalist, Nick Krgovich.

Singing in falsetto with dead seriousness, Krgovich displayed a vocal ambition unusual for most. Although he occasionally came across like someone’s dad fronting a Mariah Carey cover band (Coke-bottle glasses, and a sweater vest didn’t help), Krgovich kept No Kids’ songs interesting.

As the half-hearted applause died at the end of No Kids set and the audience surged closer to the stage, it was clear that everyone in the packed venue was there to see the headliners, Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors.

Formerly a solo project of mastermind Dave Longstreth, The Dirty Projectors has morphed into a formidable live band, with guitarist Amber Coffman and bassist Angel Deradoorian providing backup harmonies for Longstreth’s melismatic singing.

While The Projectors clearly draw from urban music, evident in their vocal acrobatics and prominent bass lines, their success lies in how well they blend this infl uence with a variety of other genres to produce intriguing music that’s hard to classify.

Playing a mixture of newly written songs, tracks off their most recent album Rise Above (a re-imagining of Black Flag’s Damaged), in edition to older material, The Dirty Projectors demonstrated reasoning behind their stylistic quirks. Their voices were dramatically expressive, providing accessible points for the listener to grab on to, while the disorienting interplay between Longstreth’s and Coffman’s guitars drove the songs forward.

During a highlight of their set, a breakneck speed version of “Imagine It,“ a portion of the audience near the stage started to mosh. Perhaps that’s what these R&B infl uenced bands are after: soulful music you can mosh to.