Andrew Bird Gets Intimate in Brooklyn

Bird’s lyrics are poetic to say the least, and in some ways, they remind me of Jeff Tweedy, only completely different (maybe because I’m obsessed with Sky Blue Sky, so everything reminds me of something related to Wilco). Sometimes I think Bird fell out of a 1950s sketch and quickly, though apprehensively, caught on that he time-traveled and is trying his best, successfully, to adapt. He is very humble.


The setting for the show was awesome: Union Hall, has this interesting feel to it, peppered with hipsters and yuppies alike, and the energy in the space felt good and apropos. The room was tiny. My friend and I were immediately chastised for barging into an open hole near the front of the stage, but who could blame anyone? We were all very excited, and we all wanted a good spot. Not that that was hard to come by; the space was small.


He had what looked like old phonograph speakers that would spin when he played his violin. Someone dubbed them Spinderalla…and they were cool. Every song included some violin, guitar, and whistling on Bird’s part; he was busy on stage switching between violin and guitar frequently, but gracefully, so it wasn’t stressful for the audience. His band is known as Bowl of Fire, and they were excellent.


Andrew Bird is also unnaturally and eerily talented at whistling, which he does so often and so effortlessly. At times you’re tempted to think he’s whistle-synching ala Milli or Vanilli, but no, it is truly he. For me, his whistling reminds me of a spaghetti western starring Clint Eastwood (did they all star Clint?). It’s haunting and beautiful, just like the rest of his music. As my friend said, “I liked when he would whistle and then walk back for his violin, continuing his whistle, and the volume descended. Then as he returned, the loudness increased.”

This really intimate show in this really intimate venue was awesome, to say the least. He played a ton of new stuff, lots off the new album, and one (maybe two) old songs. He didn’t play anything off Mysterious Production of Eggs, which I hoped was all he’d play, but that’s just me. Still, I was very impressed and completely satisfied. He ran into tech difficulties toward the end of the night and continued to be shy, graceful and easy-going about it all.

Bird playing “Plasticities” on Letterman following this reviewed gig

Two things that really impressed me with his encore cover of Oh Sister: first, his choice of such an obscure Dylan tune, and better, for his making it sound completely different than on Desire. I didn’t recognize it until the line “We grew up together from the cradle to the grave.”

Also, at one point I was wondering, does he do the same show every time? While he seemed like he might, he seemed like he wouldn’t. After the show, a fan who had seen him many times commented to me “The best part about Bird is that he never plays the same song the same way twice.” That made me happy.

Bird playing “Measuring Cups” at Bonnaroo 2006

Due to charity tickets, we were blessed with an the world’s most akward meet-and-greet after the show. Again, to quote my friend, “I was Marcia Brady last night, and he was Davy Jones. I was so nervous, and he was so awkwardly shy, or something, and it made me more nervous.”

But he put up with our own personal photo shoot and laughed at our jokes. I mean, really, what more can you ask for?

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3 Responses

  1. I saw Andrew in Stockholm, Sweden a year ago (if not two… a bit unsure there) and he was amazing.

    You somehow get stuck in his windling melodies and plucking and picking and talking and singing. I am also so stunned by his musicality. If you have known him for two decades you must have sooo much to say about his walk of fame. I’m all ears! 😀


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