Performance review: Andrew Bird
Wednesday, Oct. 22 “ A long line was forming in front of Delaware Avenue's Methodist Episcopal Church. It was around 7 p.m., so the big crowds of 20-somethings, with some older couples mixed in, were not there for a religious occasion. In fact, they were there for the highly acclaimed musician Andrew Bird, and his opener, St. Vincent.
The once church, which is now known better as Babeville, is a gorgeous venue, with balcony seats circling the open floor. It was nearing 8 p.m.and while the crowd was getting restless when St. Vincent came on, the band was greeted with applause and cheer.
Annie Clark, the lead singer/guitarist, led a 47- minuite set. Her band consisted of a drummer, bass guitarist, a violinist, and a keyboard/flutist. She showcased an extraordinary voice, with genuine emotion pouring out with every word, whispered or shouted.
Accompanying music was mostly mellow, with the drummer covering his snare with towels for a muffl ed effect. Many tracks were reminiscent of a renaissance-faire with violin and fl ute accompaniment. It was not all old-age inspired, many times a song took a turn into an organized chaotic mess with the lead singer kicking in the distortion pedals, slamming her guitar, and fl ailing her whammy bar for glitch sounds and effects. Annie's loop pedal was a great addition to the show, with her looping guitar riffs, vocals, and even a simple glitch drum beat she created by slamming her guitar with her fist.
St. Vincent put on a great show, and encouraged everyone to pay special attention to Andrew Bird, as he was going to change our lives.
ot long after St. Vincent's rock N' roll set did Andrew Bird dawn the stage with a simple wave and smile. He fumbled around the stage a bit, clueless, as he picked up his violin. After kicking off his shoes, he went to work. Although he was a solo act, it was not diffi cult for him to entertain a large crowd. He quickly and effortlessly created a loop on his loop pedal of a simple plucking pattern, as he moved the violin to his shoulder and started creating a mellow tone to overlap his pizzicato.
About a dozen loops later, if you had closed your eyes, you could have sworn a full string orchestra had been playing in front of you, yet instead it was a solo act, Bird, standing a bit awkward in the middle of a large stage, in his socks, wielding his violin and whistling away.
His first instrumental piece just fi nished up, and he was struggling to find words to say to the audience. The crowd laughed, as he settled with I don't know and played his second instrumental track.
The first song with lyrics was Dark Matter, off his album Armchair Apocrypha. Bird described the meaning behind the song, which happened to be the complications of eating organs of an animal, where quite possibly the essence of the animal may reside.
He rambled on about mad cow disease and explained the difference between the live version, dubbed Sweet Matter, which happened to be how he originally wrote it, and the album release.
The rest of the night went on similarly with Bird creating loops of violin, electric guitar, whistling, and a pair of shakers. He calmly and coolly talked to the crowd and even had a jazz - inspired spoken -word session while wildly hitting his violin with his bow.
Hit songs he played included A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left and Anonanimal.
The crowd got very excited when Bird called out St. Vincent's Annie Clark to accompany him in his next song by playing the electric guitar and doing backup vocals. This lead up to a newer song that they worked on impromptu in Paris. The crowd was in an uproar and applause as Bird called out the rest of St. Vincent's band, cheerfully yet humbly stating This is the best tour ever. I'm just happy. The full band played two incredible songs, and, following a standing ovation, Bird and Clark encored a cover of Bob Dylan's and Jacques Levy's Oh Sister. Following the cover, Bird played a song, and picking up his shoes and overcoat, left the stage with a simple thank you to the crowd.