Andrew Bird remains fresh with reworking of classic tracks

Once Andrew Bird set the first musical loops of the evening in motion on Tuesday, Dec. 8, he set his precious violin in its case and made himself comfortable by removing his shoes. Though this is more likely a product of the vast array of foot switches he commands throughout his performance, I see it also as a gesture of his intimacy with the audience.
This intimacy was evident after the first song, as he proceeded to give his newer listeners an old-school take on “Dark Matter,” called “Sweetbreads.” Andrew Bird constantly re-imagines his music, so it wasn’t surprising that these songs share the same verses. The different choruses reflected the various stages of his career, from his early days as a soloing troubadour to the frontman of a band on a major label.
Though most Andrew Bird shows of late have featured a full band, Tuesday, Dec. 8’s show at Foellinger Auditorium was entirely solo. His narrow frame shielded only by flannel and a tan blazer; his nimble music shielded only by the domed roof. The Illinoisan seemed a blur on stage, tapping pedals to loop any or all of his voice, whistle, violin, guitar, and glockenspiel.
Mr. Bird does it all with a shy flair, refusing to settle for performing his music as laid out in the studio. The third song of the night, “Why?” was filled with vocal flourishes and dramatic pauses not present on The Swimming Hour’s recording. Then, he tied in a meaning to the mostly college-aged crowd by mentioning the story behind the song. According to Bird, the lyric “I wish it was those dishes you were throwing / Damn you for being so easy going,” was a sarcastic jab at his college roommate, who liked to break things.
The overall tone of the show was relaxed, featuring some of the more subdued numbers off his most recent album Noble Beast, yet spanning throughout all eras of his catalogue. A standing ovation brought the multi-instrumentalist back out for a two song encore. The first song was the traditional “Some of These Days” played entirely acoustic on violin. The finale was a dramatic version of “Weather Systems” from the LP of the same name, which received another standing ovation from the Foellinger Crowd.

  1. Hot Math
  2. Sweetbreads (Dark Matter)
  3. Why?
  4. Tenuousness
  5. A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
  6. Natural Disaster
  7. Oh No
  8. Carrion Suite
  9. Happy Birthday Song
  10. Headsoak
  11. Imitosis
  12. Anonanimal
  13. Dr. Stringz
  14. Scythian Empires


  1. Some of These Days
  2. Weather Systems

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