Andrew Bird | 11.25.06

Beauteous treasures such as "Dark Matter," "Plasticities," and the Dosh-inspired "Simple Exercises" proved that Bird's melodic well is in no way close to drying up—and neither is his quirky charm.

 

Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, Ill.

It's a rare occasion and a definite treat when an audience is allowed to join an accomplished artist in the personal development of his or her craft. Andrew Bird took his brand of live experimentation to a new level at the Logan Square Auditorium, unveiling a plethora of new songs to be featured on his upcoming, highly anticipated 2007 release—some of which had barely (if ever) been played before a live audience. Accompanied by drummer/keyboardist/electronicist Martin Dosh as well as a bass player, Bird pleased the cramped crowd with favorites from his critically successful album, The Mysterious Production of Eggs, before announcing that they were going to perform an "onslaught" of new songs. For first-time Bird concertgoers, this may have been somewhat of a turnoff, but to those well versed in his canon, it was a truly stimulating adventure.

After shuffling in place on what seemed to be a public school stairwell, my anticipation was further set back upon entering the venue itself. The last time I had seen Bird was amid a sizeable crowd at the sensory behemoth that is Bonnaroo. Despite anticipating a more intimate locale, I was a bit surprised to find myself exiting that stairwell in favor of (what seemed to be) a junior high dance floor. I almost expected the girls to be on one side with the boys on the other. All jokes aside (seriously, chairs were line up on the sides, and only the sides—for the shy kids?), the auditorium was indeed intimate, but appropriately so, for it seemed that Bird was only willing to perform such sensitive material before a tiny gathering on his home turf.

Following a few technical difficulties that would crop up once or twice more throughout the evening (problems in the A/V Club? chuckle chuckle), Bird began with "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left." A few standards followed, but were otherwise scarce in a show book-ended, for crowd-pleasing purposes, by "Tables and Chairs." It became apparent after Bird's announcement that the new material would be the highlight of the night, and in this respect he did not disappoint. Beauteous treasures such as "Dark Matter," "Plasticities," and the Dosh-inspired "Simple Exercises" proved that Bird's melodic well is in no way close to drying up—and neither is his quirky charm.

Citing legal disputes with the folks over at Sesame Street, the transformative "Mitosis" (formerly "I" to Bird enthusiasts, no pun intended) revealed the troubadour's ability to weave his childlike instincts into a vast, multifaceted envelopment of intricate lyrics and moving dreamscapes. Looking for a new "Skin Is, My"? Try the nomadic, time-traveling escapades of "Scythian Empire," whose influences reach far beyond the shoreline and into the depths of a musical Black Sea.

Simply put, if there were more artists like Bird, our willingness to expand our interests would not be such a chore. Furthermore, if his tendencies to play around in his live performances are any indication, the finished product will surely be something to whistle at. | Dave Jasmon

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