October 5, 2007

Concert Review: Andrew Bird, 9.18.07

Andrew BirdLe LoupThe Brown Theatre9.18.07BY ROXANN SLATEArtist with a capitol A is a loaded term. It is a symbol of thetraditional patriarchal master of His trade. Everything the Artisttouches becomes a work of art. The artist and his studio are sacredand mystical. The creative process is something that should not bedismissed and the true work of art cannot be denied.    I am a serious Andrew Bird fan. I attended this concert knowing I ranthe risk of falling hopelessly in love with him and having to move tothe outskirts of Chicago to be his friend and drink coffee with him ina sunny, farm-house kitchen.    The venue was a mediocre concert hall with great acoustics that madeup for its faux historical renovations. The opening band, Le Loup,from Washington DC was a charming and solid opener. This seven-piececollective fit somewhere between Broken Social Scene and The Boy LeastLikely To. My hope for them in the future is that they can maintainthe cutsie pop charm that warmed my heart and the swelling sounds thatgave me goose bumps. They had great energy and brought out AndrewBird's younger side.    The crowd was a mixed demographic. To be honest, I brought my mom,and she loved it. Between the venue and Bird's suit the evening hadthe potential to be stuffy, but Le Loup started the evening off on asincerely vibrant note.    Bird took the stage light footed, slightly hunched and carrying hisviolin case. He stood all evening in a ring of speakers andmegaphones. It was just the Artist surrounding himself in His art. Wewatched the whole creative process. The sounds rose out of him. Hedidn't play the guitar or the violin; he willed them to make noise.You could see when he was pleased, and when it wasn't working, he toldus, or just stopped and started over again. At first, I thought he wasperfectly isolated. He was playing alone, interacting solely with hisown looped musical phrases, but then it changed. I no longer saw himas an Artist, in the unapproachable and idealized way. I began to seehim as a little kid in stocking feet playing with his glockenspiel,jolting about his room with his curious George stuffed animal as hisonly audience.    Bird told us about his pet chickens that were eaten by raccoons, highschool friends that met tragic ends and shared his momentaryfrustration with his out-of-tune violin. He took the audience throughan elaborate spectrum of admiration, beginning with god-likeperfection and ending with more human form.