I have to admit, for the longest time I never paid Andrew Bird much mind. I had seen him guest here and there with a few bands (including a notable time with Wilco), but thought his whistling thing a bit shtick-y and his singing voice unremarkable for my tastes. But, cut to present day, and my infatuation with turntable.fm, and lots of listens later, I now have a newfound appreciation for Bird and his craftsmanship. He is championed by some of my most trusted ttfm peers, so when mervdiddy and Sapient urged me to jump on tickets for a secret show happening that weekend under the pseudonym "Useless Creatures," I grabbed myself a ticket and convinced emmyjane to come along.
(More pics, including setlist, after the jump.)
We got to the minuscule Bell House early enough to grab a spot near the stage. There was no opener.
When Bird got on stage, he came out alone and started off doing some looping bits as he is wont to do. He was then joined by a backing band and they pretty much played his upcoming album, Break It Yourself, in its entirety, but out of order. He then followed with a good number of encore tracks, including "Tables and Chairs" (there will be snacks!) and twangy covers including a few by the Handsome Family.
I had regretted having never seen Bird in a smaller venue, and he is due to return to NYC for a few nights at the much larger Beacon Theatre. Thankfully, this was a great opportunity to catch him in an intimate, informal setting, where he proved to be loose and engaging. Seeing him live made all the difference, as only then can you witness the amazing job he does layering himself and his notes. I no longer see his voice as plain and unremarkable, but rather, another element that he weaves seamlessly into his tapestry of violin, guitar, whistling and all.