Friday, May 25, 2007

Andrew Bird

For anyone who hasn't seen Andrew Bird in concert, but is interested in new and exciting music, it's a must-see. Seriously, it's one of the most interesting and exciting concerts I've ever been to. My friend Rich and I got to see him play with Martin Dosh at the Pageant on my brother's recommendation. I had never seen or heard of either of them before...

The opening act was kind of like Mazzy Star, but with a voice like a cross between Bjork and Nico. It sounded good, don't get me wrong, but we didn't come to the show to get a good night's sleep. So as you can imagine, Rich and I were getting ready to curse my brother's name.

The stage went dark, and 15 minutes later a single light shined down on Martin Dosh, who, in his short sleeved button down shirt with a tie, looking rather like your local IT guy, slowly, over the next 5-10 minutes built up a series of loops, using different instrument sounds, until he sounded like a small ensemble himself. Then, out came Andrew and the bassist (Jeremy Ylvisaker), and he played a couple notes on his violin, then took his shoes off, and started building up his own loops using pedals on the floor. They kept building layer on layer, until finally, after several minutes, Andrew stepped on something that started two enormous horns spinning in the back of the stage. As they were spinning, flashing rhythmically in the lights, it was positively hypnotic, but exciting too, and growing cacophonous, until finally they stopped everything, and fell to silence... then started right into playing Imitosis.

You can find videos of them on Youtube, but they're completely inadequate representations of the show. In person, you can actually see, very clearly, how Andrew was using his pedals to create a new loop, and then release it to repeat, and then make another, and another. His whistling is so loud and clear, exactly like the whistling on spaghetti westerns like the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and he switches from guitar to violin constantly (just pushes the guitar around his back, out of his way, and picks up the violin). He also had a small glockenspiel mounted next to his mic stand that he would play along with his whistling sometimes, in perfect pitch. Really, he'd strike a key on the glockenspiel, and whistle the same note at the same time in perfect pitch. It was truly remarkable. This is an extremely talented musician.

We had a perfect vantage point for watching Martin as well, as he used his keyboards to create loops of his own, with his drums, cymbals, and other percussion instruments, as well as the keyboards themselves, to a lesser extent.

After the concert, I went over to the media stand to buy a CD. I asked the guy working the stand "which CD has that solo Andrew did right after the break?" "I don't know, you'll have to ask him yourself." At that moment, Andrew came out from behind the stage. "Andrew, which CD has that solo you did right after the break?" "Oh... Who?" ("Who" is apparently the name of the tune...) "That's on this one: Fingerlings." "Excellent. Thanks! Andrew, it was an absolute pleasure. Great show." "Thanks!"

That obviously made my night.

Thank you, Sean, for telling me to go to that concert. I know it's killing you to read this. Sorry you couldn't be there too!

Andrew has a website here:, and a MySpace profile here:

His latest album, Armchair Apocrypha, is so infectious, I am actually a little surprised by how much it's taken over my listening lately. I highly recommend it.

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