Saturday, August 8, 2009
Chicago's own Andrew Bird played an absolutely stunning live set at Schubas Tavern Thursday night. The gentle indie-folk songster wove intricate musical tapestries onstage for an enraptured audience at the intimate venue. The special sold-out event benefited the Rock for Kids charitable organization, and was the first part of a two-day sendoff (the other appearance being none other than a set at Lollapalooza) to the singer-songwriter, who leaves this Saturday on a three-and-a-half-week European tour.
Minneapolis-based opening act Alpha Consumer included, along with a set that ranged from solid rock grooves with a mild psychedelic feel to quirky folk-influenced Americana, a few good-natured digs directed at Mr. Bird's unique musical style. After a very brief set change, Mr. Bird took the stage along with long-time musical associate Martin Dosh and members of Alpha Consumer in tow.
Regular attendees of Andrew Bird's live shows are already citing the performance as one of his finest to date, and he was certainly in fine form yesterday night. The set, primarily comprised of recent material off his 2009 release, Noble Beast, also included early material and several highly entertaining storyteller-style introductions and explanations that were especially endearing.
From the reedy tenor of Bird's voice, to his cheerful whistle and glockenspiel, to the intricate bowings, pluckings, and strummings of his violin and guitar work, the music itself was utterly breathtaking. Except for occasional mid-song cheers that just couldn't be held in any longer, the audience seemed to be held spellbound for the entire set. The music was soulful and lovely and the energy in the room was electric. My personal favorite of the evening was a hair-raising rendition of “Imitosis”, the penultimate song of the regular set. Responding to overwhelming audience applause, the musicians returned to the stage for a two-song encore, including the nearly-acappella “Some of These Days” accompanied only by strummed violin.
It is performances like these that inspire people to start playing music themselves, and reinforces just how deserving Mr. Bird is of his status as one of the finest independent musicians around—not just in Chicago, but worldwide, as well.
Andrew Bird, “Oh No” at Schubas 8/6/09
Andrew Bird, “Masterswarm” at Schubas 8/6/09