bird.jpg
Click the photo for a slideshow of the concert. All photos by Laura Musselman.

Andrew Bird
Venue: The Showbox
Date: May 5, 2007
Would Meatface


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Last Night: Andrew Bird at The Showbox

Technical mastery of sound.

bird.jpg
Click the photo for a slideshow of the concert. All photos by Laura Musselman.

Andrew Bird
Venue: The Showbox
Date: May 5, 2007
Would Meatface approve?: As an avid bird caller, Meatface appreciates whistling more than anyone.
And the hipsters?: Violin is hipper than hip

Just the look of him conjures the word genius. Mad genius, in fact. With a glistening over-sized silver tie, a tangled mess of hair, and a violin bow dangling with broken hairs, Andrew Bird looks like he was plucked, mid-absinthe shot, from a bohemian café in Paris circa 1906.
 
Though not the liveliest performance I’ve ever witnessed, Bird drew almost exclusively from his most recent release, “Armchair Apocrypha,” delivering a restrained, subtle, and entirely brilliant performance. I would like to say that, with a bassist and drummer, he performed as a three-piece, but that is simply not the case. A master of multi-tasking, Bird was seen at one point with a guitar hanging down his back, a violin in one hand, a glockenspiel mallet in the other, all the while delivering the most perfectly pitched whistle imaginable.

The whistle: it’s like he has a flute for a mouth.  With a crystal clear tone and timbre, it was the driving element of many of the songs, particularly “Scythian Empires,” Bird’s poignant, oblique comment on the fleeting nature of government.

Bird also happens to be a virtuoso violin player, and along with the standard bow to strings sound, he busted out some amazing pizzicato (thanks Wikipedia), holding the instrument like a ukulele and plucking the strings, producing what sounded like a mix of guitar, cello, and bass.

The difficult thing about shows such as this one, is the lack of spectacle. Coming off of a week of Iggy Pop and !!!, it was a puzzling relief to simply stand back and appreciate a technical mastery of sound. Short of a crazy red and white revolving phonograph and Bird himself, there wasn’t much to look at on stage. Luckily, as you might recall, Bird happens to be a mad genius, and at times, such as the “awkward pause,” in “Armchairs,” he rolled his eyes back in his head, craned his neck, and delivered a violent shake of the head, a gesture seemingly drawn straight from the cafés of Montmartre.   

Reporter’s Notebook
Personal Bias: I’m a sucker for songs with whistling. “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” are my favs.
State of the reviewer: It was Cinco de Mayo. Bebí un poco.
First time I saw the band: You just read about it.

 
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