Friday, September 5, 2008

Andrew Bird is Crafty

Wednesday night Andrew Bird performed for free at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. This was a show I knew we could not miss since we've been a fan of the musician's work since his 2004 album and a fan of the Pritzker Pavillion since...shortly before we moved here. This was the first full length show we had a chance to attend at this venue since we arrived, though we did catch Le Loup for a short lunch hour show when we first arrived. The evening show did not disappoint, the sound was very good and it did not rain! Though architecturally, Chuck & I were wondering why the lawn wasn't sloped for better views of the stage, but that didn't matter too much because we were able to score seats in the "seating pit."

The first time we saw Andrew Bird was a the Tractor Tavern, shortly after my dad sent me a link to a free mp3 on Salon's audiofile mentioning it sounded like something I would like. It was. Of course the sound was right up my alley so I was pleased to find out some facts about him, that he's from Chicago and he used to be the violinist for the Squirrel Nut Zippers. But I was also struck by the photos of him. First of all he's very stylish, I love the suits, long coats & scarves. There's also an air of craftiness to his press photos. Often these pictures include props like large Victrola parts, birds or birdhouses that must've been handcrafted. The artwork on his albums & concert posters reflect this as well. Plus he whistles, plays violin, guitar, other instruments and he's pretty cute.

So this week's show was no exception. He dressed in a suit, and was notably controlling his looping effect with his shoeless, colorblock sock covered feet. 3 video screens displayed fascinating videos of machinery whose purpose appeared to be to animate a chair, wings or eggshells. One song even included an animated short about a fisherman and a squid that both perplexed and amused the audience. Victrola parts were present as well, one spun during certain songs. It was an very enjoyable show, but I'm also glad we got to see him at such a small venue early on. It was harder to get a sense of what he was doing on stage, looping his live violin samples, though I'm sure it would have helped if we had been closer. And ultimately Andrew Bird is one of the few musicians we've seen that really doesn't need a band, he's able to fill the stage on his own. But the band added excitement, even if I did miss the intimacy, and it was great to see the enthusiastic hometown crowd rush the stage during fake palindromes (a more upbeat song from his repertoire.) It was certainly an excellent show!


Rekoj said...

Wow! I've somehow never heard of Andrew Bird (even though I've been a long time SNZ fan) - how could this be? Thanks for setting me straight and "introducing" him - now I think I must be in love... shhh... don't tell!

Emma K. Nolan said...

Good, I'm happy to spread the word on Andrew Bird (heehee!) Isn't he cute? I think he was just occasionally a member of SNZ, but it's a connection I appreciate!