Andrew Bird at the Largo, Hollywood, CA, January 17th, 2013
Andrew Bird will always be the kind of musician that it is necessary to see live multiple times. An adroit improviser, the paint seems to be perpetually wet on his compositions. As a result, depending on his mood, surroundings, or even the way the wind is blowing, Bird is likely to deliver a drastically different performance every single night.
At Thursday’s show at the Largo (his second of three nights at the small theatre) Bird focused intimacy, dividing the concert into two halves. For the first part, Bird performed solo, looping his violin, guitar, xylophone, and whistles into an orchestral-level wall of sound. There’s a certain thrill to watching any musician create live loops (something akin to rubbing your belly, patting your head, and doing your taxes in Latin), but watching Bird, that thrill is amplified by a factor of 10. Effortless, easy, magic—whatever word you use, it’s difficult to believe someone with such an absent-minded professor air can keep so many plates spinning.
The second half of the night was given over to a full band performance; musicians (including a giddy Tift Merrit) huddled around an old-timey microphone. In keeping with the setup, the set was largely comprised of covers of classic spirituals (“Biblical old testament stuff” laughed Bird), famous Americana (including Bob Dylan’s “Oh Sister”), and material from last year’s folk-fueled double-hitter, Break it Yourselfand Hands of Glory.
A sly wit, Bird also played a new song called “Professor Socks.” Inspired by his “Dr. Stringz” character, Bird joked that he’s in talks to star in a new children’s’ show, where he plays an ditzy professor with magic socks…who happens to be friends with a fox. The band didn’t quite nail the vocal harmonies on the theme song—but everyone was having too much fun to notice.
Opening the show was “a young man trying to break into the comedy business,” Zach Galifianakis. Despite asking that media professionals leave him out of their reviews (sorry dude) he performed a series of awkward/funny one-liners that either directly stemmed from his on-stage persona, or his attempt to road test new material. Either way, I think we can all agree—yes, there are a lot of plaid shirts in Silver Lake. (www.andrewbird.net)