Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mic Check: Andrew Bird, Troy, NY 10/13/11

CAN WE DISCUSS THE BEARDS THO

It has taken me quite a while to sit down and write about this experience. Because it was an experience. I wouldn't even call this a concert - it was so much bigger than music that it is difficult to explain.

The Troy Music Hall is quite a unique space. The husband and I had never been there, and we were surprised by how positively tiny the stage is. There are no wings - you enter and exit the stage by a little door on the side. The backdrop is a gigantic set of organ pipes, which are apparently what gives the space such incredible acoustics. We were in the third row, which was an experience in itself. Everything was loud, for sure, but we also had the fortune to hear Bird count to himself and make little gasps while he was playing. Something about hearing those little bits makes it so much more intimate.

Dosh was the opening act. I had seen some of his videos on youtube, but really, you need to see him live to ever appreciate what it is that he is creating. He sits in the middle of a pile of electronic equipment, a drum kit, a keyboard and various bits and pieces that he will clang and tap and bang for effect. He, like Bird, uses a loop machine to layer sounds, forming them into an incredible cloud that just takes you over. He came out, said hello, put on his headphones and that was that. He played for nearly an hour, and it was like it went by in an instant. It was mesmerizing to watch him move, and to watch him make decisions about what to do next. Here is a little video of him performing at home - it's an old clip, but it shows quite well what it's like to watch him.



Then there's Andrew Bird.

I don't even know what to say.

He is an artist. What he is doing when he performs every night is more than music. It's more than instrumentation. He is letting himself become something else entirely, and people get to sit there and watch it happen. This became completely apparent when he performed "Why," which I'm pretty sure is now the husband's favorite thing he's ever seen. You can check out this video from the show, but really, no video could ever convey what it was like to sit there and hear this:



In the most heartwrenching moments of the evening, he explained to the crowd that he had written an entire album's worth of songs to be used for the soundtrack to the new Muppet movie, and in the end they decided to only use one track, which was just of him whistling. So now he is left with this group of songs that he wrote,  with no real way to share them except to play them at shows once in a while. And so he played "The Lazy Projector" and I thought that I might cry. I mean. Clearly, this man is a genius.




He followed this with a somewhat somber cover of "It's Not Easy Being Green." Ok. JUST LET ME DIE.

Dosh was invited back on stage, and the two of them played out the rest of the show. During this time, Bird talked about how, after playing together for many years, they had finally discovered a way for Bird to send loops over to Dosh's machine without much interference, so they had been taking a bit of time during each performance to fool around with it and see what happened. Because you know, THEY MIGHT MAKE AN ALBUM TOGETHER OR SOMETHING WHATEVER NO BIG DEAL. *flail* So here's a clip of what they did. No need to worry about the crap video quality - just listen.



The evening went by way too fast. I could have sat there watching him play for hours. Really. He came out and did a short encore of bluegrass covers, playing by himself on the side of the stage and using a vintage metal microphone. I mean. It could not have been a more incredible evening. Two standing ovations, and I'm pretty sure that all of us would have stayed there clapping for another hour if it meant he would come back out for one more song.

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