This story begins with a brief, but important confession of bias. Andrew Bird is one of my favorite musicians of all time, and consequently, I have seen him live before. Twice before to be precise. However, walking into the Blue Note this past Thursday night, I knew I was in for something different. My past live experiences with Andrew Bird had been at Chicago’s Civic Opera House, a venue that can only be described as colossal, and at Lollapalooza, an outdoor festival with a crowd to big to be contained by any building. However, in the Blue Note’s intimate setting, Bird truly shined like never before, playing songs both new and old, all the while conversing with the crowd, making for a show that none of the audience will be forgetting anytime soon.
The show began with a short set from St. Vincent, the group currently touring with Bird through the Midwest. Having not heard of St. Vincent up until the point of the show, I found myself pleasantly surprised with their sound. With frontwoman Annie Clark looking like another cute, young, indie artist, the crowd was treated to something else entirely, a sound that bordered on electronica, while still staying fun with a pop based sound. The music had a distinct and unexpected darkness to it that really added another level to the show, as Clark danced like the world’s most adorable robot, to the steady beat of songs like “Your Lips are Red.” St. Vincent left the stage, but not without piquing my curiosity, and the curiosity of most of the crowd. After a brief break, the lights went down, and Andrew Bird took the stage.
Andrew Bird jumps right into his set, kicking off his shoes, putting a sock monkey on top of one of the speakers, and starting with a crowd favorite, Fiery Crash. Throughout the show, the benefits of the close quarters setting become apparent as Bird spoke with the crowd, discussing the MKT bike trail, life in general, and most interesting, his thought process on a new song he showcased for the crowd entitled, “Lusitania.” The show continued with Bird playing through songs not heard as often live such as “Opposite Day” and “The Birthday Song.” The show came to an apparent end with Bird’s most popular song, “Fake Palindromes,” however an encore was given without much coercion as Bird played the song, “Why,” which became a sort of dialogue between Bird and the crowd, as he shook and waved around the stage. The show finished off with “Tables and Chairs,” ending the show on the highest possible note, and waving to the crowd as he picked up his sock monkey and left the stage.
If Andrew Bird has his way, at the end of the world there will be no elaborate judgement day, no violent doom, only a party with pony rides, dancing bears, and most importantly, snacks. It’s not hard to buy into his philosophy on life after spending an hour and a half listening to this man play, as he truly seems to put himself into everything song, showing an unbelievable amount of focus and enthusiasm for what he’s doing. The only thing that two of Andrew Bird’s shows have in common is that they leave anyone fortunate enough to be in the audience happy with not only their evening, but with life.