othersideofthis: (Default)
* I had a delightful time traipsing about the south with [personal profile] agonistes last week.  There was history and cats and music-acquiring and also Andrew Bird.  I wrote the review for the Atlanta show, she wrote the one for Nashville.  You should read both of them.   They were super exciting and we had a lot of feelings about both of the shows, especially Nashville.  (Also, in Nashville, we both procured Satan is Real tshirts.  I l plan on wearing mine to the annual hipster radio vinyl sale next month, and things will be glorious.)

* I also saw Mr. Bird in Milwaukee and while the show itself was excellent, I need to gripe a little bit about the audience.  They were boisterous in all of the right places -- Bird got extended applause throughout the set, including one point at which he looked a little surprised at how enthusiastically they applauded.  But the amount of drunken hooting, random shouting, and the tendency to scream every time words weren't coming out of his mouth slowly drove me more and more nuts as the show went on.  (He even acknowledged it at one point, in that slightly snarky way of his: "There sure are a lot of interesting opinions out there.") I get that you're happy to be there but, seriously, put a lid on it.  I have such disdain for the practice of shouting song titles repeatedly at an artist, particularly one who is on tour supporting  a new album.  I just think that it's rude, especially if you keep doing it.  While Bird changes his set list on a whim all the time -- he threw Bein' Green in at Nashville, and Skin Is My in Atlanta -- he does it on his own terms, generally not because someone yelled a song at him.  I've seen him take requests at smaller shows, like the Sonic Arboretum gigs he did at the MCA, but he generally sticks to what he's already decided to play.  Also, I think there's a certain level of decorum that one expects from a seated show in a fancy theater, and drunken hooting and yelling doesn't quite measure up.  Also -- and this is just a "it personally annoyed me" rather than "bad concert behavior" -- in a huge, cavernous concert hall, there is going to be sound phasing, so clapping along in time almost NEVER works right, because you think you're clapping along but you're really NOT and it is just out of time and annoying.  There were a few quiet moments where Bird and company were playing acoustic songs, clustered around a single mic, and people got it in their heads to clap along, which, okay, not begrudging you having a good time. And then the out of time clapping along devolved into what sounded to me like people playing the "who claps last" game - you know, one person claps, and then another claps right after, and then the first person claps again to try to be last, etc.  I know that I have odd reactions to certain sounds and rhythms, so it likely bothered me more than most other normal people, but I honestly had a hard time focusing on the performance because so many people were doing this.  Ugh, people.  Don't be douchebags, why is that so hard.

* In an attempt to clean off my desktop, I found the folder of songs by my band.  I've uploaded a few of them for your listening enjoyment. They're from a rehearsal, so the quality is not great, but I like sharing.
  * All Along the Watchtower 
  * It's All Over Now Baby Blue
  * Bruce's Grave (original)
I also do a pretty mean cover of Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down", but the only copies of it I have are either incomplete or in a single/unsplit MP3 of a full show, and I am too lazy to edit.

* My cat is currently shedding like it's his job, and won't stop meowing.  I spend a lot of time going "WHAT DO YOU WANT".  Also, I seem to have developed a case of little tiny ants since I left.  I picked up an organic/pet safe ant killer that seems to work okay so far, but I also sprinkled some corn meal on the floor where I keep seeing them.  Allegedly the ants will eat it and then explode because their bodies can't process it?  I don't know if it will actually work, but it's worth a shot, especially since these little assholes are crawling around where the cat eats.  I haven't seen any since I sprayed the place with the organic ant killer, so we'll cross our fingers that there aren't any more.

* Also, against my better judgment, I signed up for a White Collar prompt over at [livejournal.com profile] queer_fest so there is that.  It's Neal/Peter and Neal/OMC and what was that that I said about me probably never actually writing Neal/Peter? Oh well.  

othersideofthis: (far too early for this)
Hi, LJ. I didn't really read anything over the weekend, so if anything interesting happened, I missed it.

But, whatever, because I HAVE SOMETHING FANTASTIC TO SAY:

after waiting outside for about two and a half hours in the cold with about 12-15 other devoted Andrew Bird fans, wherein we amused ourselves with a cappella renditions of Bird songs (complete with beatboxing) and playing the Name an Andrew Bird Song for Every Letter in the Alphabet (wherein I pwned everyone by using Bowl of Fire songs instead of songs from his newer releases; and where we skipped J, said we wouldn't skip any more, and then got stuck on Q), he finally came out and took time to chat with us all and sign things. No photos, but I couldn't be too sad about that, as A) he'd been filmed for two days straight for the DVD they're making, and B) he was nice enough to stop and chat with us and sign things all anyway.

BUT IT GETS BETTER.

This one girl said to him, "I told a friend that I wouldn't leave here without touching you, so can I have a hug?" and he was like "....okay." Which, you know, was all the opening I needed.

As he was signing my poster, I told him about how we met at the show at the Art Museum where I promptly hurled a bunch of words in a huge run-on sentence at him, and said that I felt kind of awkward about it afterwards, because I had hoped I would be able to be less tongue-tied, so I wrote him a little message in a card. (Hilariously, during the show, a girl in the audience shouted out in between songs, "DID YOU READ MY LETTER?" and he was like "...maybe?") So I was like, listen, you can read this or not read this or misplace it and pretend that you read it, but here, I just wanted to give this to you. And he was all, oh, thanks, and took the envelope (which, uh, may or may not have had one of my awesome blog-business cards in it, which may or may not have been a kind of psychotic idea, particularly considering that a big chunk of my blog has been devoted to reviews of his shows, and that the name of the blog itself is taken from a lyric in one of his songs, but I was like, fuck it, I'm doing it), and, yeah, will he ever read it? I don't know, I'd like to think that he will, but it was just important to me to communicate somehow just how important what he does is to me, and if I can't get the words out in talking, then I'm writing them. So there.

And then, and then, and then, I was like, well, he just hugged a couple of other people, including one guy in a hilariously awkward man-hug. This was an opportunity I wasn't going to pass up. And I was like, "since you're giving them out, can I have a hug too?" And was all, "...sure."

SO YEAH, ANDREW BIRD FREAKING HUGGED ME.

BRB DYING OF AWESOME.

That's how you know that despite the fact that he's pretty much the poster boy for terribly introverted people, that he's also a pretty awesome guy, because he hugs crazy fangirls without worrying that they're going to knife him or whatever. As someone who has her own Personal Space issues with strangers, I appreciated the fact that he let me violate his personal space for a couple of seconds.

Unrelated to the hugging, I felt really old with all of the other people waiting around for him. Most of them were college freshmen or sophomores, and I was all omgzold.

BUT WHATEVER, ANDREW BIRD HUGGED ME. If I can't steal him away for naughty things, I will make myself happy with a simple slightly awkward hug at 1:30 in the morning out in the cold in Milwaukee.

After he'd signed things for us, we all thanked him for coming out to see us, and he thanked us for waiting so long for him. We started telling him about how we'd amused ourselves, and about the Name the Song game and I looked at him and was like, "yeah, do you have any songs that start with Q?" He thought about it for a moment before saying no, he didn't think so. "We got stuck there," I said, "and I figured it anyone would know, you would."

He needs to get on that, writing a song that starts with a Q. Because you can't play the alphabet game without hitting all the letters.

I texted Concert Buddy about this, and she responded with a couple of texts worth of exclamation points. This is, I think, the only appropriate answer.

ABird 083

othersideofthis: (monsters-that would be my first guess)



For an admitted introvert who lives part-time on a farm outside of his hometown Chicago, Bird enjoys performing onstage.

“Touring warps you because you get into this hibernating, daily existence," he admits. "I like it because you’re sort of off the hook and have every excuse in the world not to engage people except during the show. But I ask myself, ‘How am I evolving to deal with this lifestyle? Will I have some weird appendage when it’s all over?’ ”

Toward the end of our conversation, Bird reveals, “I’m not your typical singer-songwriter, you know.”

October 10, Cincinnati City Beat


othersideofthis: (oh you pretty thing)
* omg I need a Halloween costume, guys, what am I going to do? Ideas, give them to me!

* The concert was amazing and epic and beautiful and everything I hoped it would be. It wasn't the best performance I've seen from him, but I think that's a slightly less than fair thing to say, as a slightly less than perfect Andrew Bird performance is still something above and beyond pretty much any other show I've ever been to.

* My review of the show is here, at my blog. Photos are here, at Flickr.

* Concert Buddy and I got there extra early around 5:15ish, but we couldn't get in until 6, so we sat around and freaked out/screwed around on Twitter/mocked the hipster kids and the people trying to get into the locked museum doors. The whole thing was making us both a little anxious though, because there was no order, no instructions, no one there who knew what was going on. So there was no line, just this massive blob, and we were both like ORDER. LINE. MUST HAVE. Eventually, as it neared 6, we started edging up next to the doors that the security guard was standing at. We wound up being probably in the first group of 10-15 to get in. En route to finding seats, we walk right past Andrew Bird himself, who is wandering around kind of aimlessly. We waited until we were appropriately far away to freak out properly. We managed to waltz our way up to a table right front and center, which we sure weren't going to complain about.

* Much waiting ensued, and then more waiting, and more waiting. Which was followed by more waiting, while a woman from the art museum and a guy from the radio station had a little discussion about art and music. Nice, kind of funny, but the crowd was impatient for Andrew Bird. I ran to the restroom as soon as they were finished, hoping that the break would be long enough for me to get back in time, but unfortunately, the restroom might as well have been in another freaking state, it was so far away. :( As I exited the restroom, I could hear the opening notes of his first song -- the acoustics in the place were absolutely crazy -- and shuffled a little faster to get back.

* Once the show was over, guests were allowed to walk around some of the exhibits in the modern wing, which was pretty awesome. I hadn't been over there yet, other than just a quick walk through to find the restaurant my boss took me to the other week, so it was really great to have that chance. And also really great to have that chance surrounded by other people who were the kinds of people to think critically about art. Very awesome. There's some deep stuff in there.

* Concert Buddy and I walked around for about half an hour until we realized we had finally exhausted all of the areas of museum that we were allowed to go into. "I guess that's it. The only thing left for us to do," I said as we turned the corner from the staircase and began walking towards the doors, "is to hunt down Andrew Bird whoisstandingrightinfrontofus." Yeah, he was just a little bit in front of us, taking a picture with some people. (Apologies to those people, who probably have me and Concert Buddy in the background being alll :O) And cue fangirl freakout. It wasn't so much that he was standing there, but that he was a) still at the museum at all, and b) talking to people and c) taking photos with people who are obviously fans, because it's not like real friends would be all Hai let's pose for photos! After shuffling further away to observe and freak out without being seen as total psychos, it became pretty clear that if Concert Buddy went up to talk to him, that she would have either thrown up on his shoes or had a panic attack or something awful, and I was like, well, I'm not letting this opportunity pass me by, and just sort of marched up to him and, idk, spewed some word vomit at him. Something lame about how I love his music and am just amazed every time I see his live show and omghugefan. He asked my name and shook my hand and was all, wow, thanks, that's really nice, sure you can have a photo. While I was wrangling someone to take the pic, Concert Buddy said hello to him and got in the shot. (The woman I asked to take the pic, for the record, was really snippy with me. I'll feel bad if I'm badmouthing his mom or something, but she was like "Yes, I'll take it, just don't take up too much of Andrew's time" or something like that. Bitch plz. He could have said no if he didn't want to take the time to have picture with us; he's notorious for politely declining to take photos with people. The last time Concert Buddy had the opportunity to talk to him, she asked for a photo and he said no and she was kind of crushed. It wasn't like I was expecting to have an indepth conversation with him. The whole encounter took, like, 3 minutes tops.) So we got our photo (which is yet another atrocious photo of me - though not quite so bad as the one with Loudon Wainwright) and said thank you and then scurried outside and promptly made a big pile of SQUEE in the doorway. Epic.

* He is so tiny omg I just want to put him in my pocket. When I talked with him, he was just a hair taller than me, and I was in ~4" heels, putting him at probably 5'9" or 5'10" or so. But physically he's just so... angular. Lanky. Wiry. Something like that. I wouldn't be shocked if I weighed more than he did. Very kind and gracious and patient when presented with one fangirl who makes a giant run-on sentence all in one breath, and another who could barely get out her name. And also pretty.

* So we sat around outside the museum while Concert Buddy smoked a POST-ANDREW BIRD-FREAKOUT cigarette, and we both sent obnoxious tweets out to the internet. She finished her cigarette and was like, well, I guess that's it, there's not much else to do. Cue Andrew Bird walking out of museum, violin case strapped to his back. "Not much else to do except see where he's going," we said. We followed from a decent distance (this wasn't creepy stalker following; regardless we had been heading in the same direction down Monroe anyway), wondering if he was just going to go take the train home or something, because that would not be surprising at all. He went and got in a car with someone, though, and thus ended any ideas of getting in the same train car and staring wistfully at the back of his head.

* Poking around in my blog stats, I found out that a link to my entry was tweeted first by this guy, Don Van Natta, Jr., who is apparently an investigative reporter for the New York Times, and then that one was retweeted by this guy, Matthew Cooper, who was a reporter at Time magazine and who was one of the journalists held in contempt of court for not naming sources during the Valerie Plame thing. CUE INTERNET FREAKOUT, OMG. Like, OMG, WOW. I tweeted at both of them thanking them for linking, and then continued freaking out. In the grand scheme of things, a link on twitter from some noteworthy people doesn't really mean a whole lot, but, wow, it excites me.

* I also went out on a limb and wrote to Gapers Block, a local news site, offering them my review for their music section. They had covered the announcement of the show, but I didn't know if they had anyone at the show to do a writeup. Anyhow, the editor of the music section said she'd love to have the post, and she put it up and linked to some of my photos on Flickr. I was kind of hoping she would link to my website, but whatever, awesome. The post on Gapers Block is here, and now it comes up whenever you Google my name, so there's something in the search results other than stuff about the big gay inaugural parade.

* VERDICT = AWESOME.
othersideofthis: (some lonely night we can get together)
Concert Review: Andrew Bird with Alpha Consumer, Schubas, August 6.
For a performer who is finally getting the mainstream attention that he deserves, Bird is still remarkably humble and down to earth. As a relatively recent transplant to Chicago, I unfortunately missed out on the days where you could catch Bird routinely playing at the Hideout or Schubas, but I can’t shake the feeling that he would be just as happy playing for a few hundred people as he would be performing in front of a sold-out Radio City Music Hall. Even though his show has gotten bigger and more intricate over the years, he looked as comfortable as ever, owning the small Schubas stage and having the audience pretty much eating out of the palm of his hand. I can comfortably say that this was one of the most special, magical concert experiences that I’ve ever had. There was the feeling of knowing that something like this may not ever happen again, which made every moment all the more precious.
Overall verdict on Lollapalooza: much better than anticipated, with plenty of nice surprises for me. Will I go next year? Maybe. I’d need an incredibly strong lineup (like Friday’s) to get me to go out again, let alone go out for all three days. But despite the rain and the fact that my legs still sort of hurt from all of that standing, there were enough priceless moments during my Lollapalooza day that I don’t have any real complaints.  (April Smith, Hockey, Manchester Orchestra, Gringo Star, The Knux, The Gaslight Anthem, Bon Iver, Ben Folds, Fleet Foxes, The Decemberists, Andrew Bird, and Kings of Leon.)

Lollapalooza photos on Flickr
Hockey, The Knux, The Gaslight Anthem, Bon Iver, The Decemberists, and Andrew Bird

WHAT'S THAT? OH, I GOT TO MEET ANDREW BIRD FOR 30 SECONDS? OH, HECK YES I DID.
BRB, STILL MAKING NOISES OF HAPPY DELIGHT SEVERAL DAYS LATER. WHO GOT A BIG HAPPY SMILE FROM ANDREW BIRD? OH, I DID. MMHM.

Concert photos, Over the Rhine, August 9

PS I MEET BEN TEMPLESMITH ON SATURDAY. AUGUST IS FUCKING AWESOME.

othersideofthis: (some lonely night we can get together)


A Hawk and a Hacksaw



The opening band was A Hawk and a Hacksaw, a four piece group with accordion, violin, trumpet, and...tuba. Tuba! Also, eventually the violinist busted out a ... trumpet violin? I'm sure the thing has a real name, but when I googled for "trumpet violin" I got this, so that's all the further I cared to look. They had a very Eastern European type feel, reminding me a lot of groups like Beirut and DeVotchKa. Most of their set (about 30-45 minutes) was instrumental, with a few songs with vocals. Very appropriate as an opener for Andrew Bird; it reminded me a lot of his earlier albums, which were more obviously influenced by traditional Eastern European music. They were entertaining, particularly if you like that kind of music. The accordion player (who was formerly in Neutral Milk Hotel) was the leader of the group, though he didn't talk much, which was okay because he was kind of awkward. Anyhow, their music had a very organic feel, the songs all sort of blended into each other. Also, there were tuba solos. You've got to respect any group that write music that includes tuba solos.


Andrew Bird



Of course, everyone was there for Mr. Bird himself. I don't really think there are enough words to really describe the show he puts on. It's amazing on a musical level as well as a technical one. Also, it was very neat to see him in an environment that was built and engineered to get the best sound carry possible. Even before he plugged the violin in and started singing, you could hear him tuning, you could hear the clicks of the pedals he uses for looping, you could hear the little sighs and intake of breath before he started. He probably could have done the whole show unplugged and you still would have heard him in the third balcony.

There's not a whole lot to say about the show itself that I didn't already say in my other post. He came out in bright red pants, plaid jacket, and scarf, and after the first song when he paused to take off his shoes (he always plays barefoot), the audience cheered. I believe his socks were stripey. This man has an epically awesome collection of fun socks. He started, solo as usual, with a bit of Dark Matter, then went right into Why?, which will always make me happy and also make me have to try really hard not to throw myself at the stage or something. Other songs included Headsoak, Don't Be Scared (both with Nora O'Connor), Fitz and the Dizzy Spells, Anonanimal, Opposite Day, Measuring Cups, Natural Disaster (which he introduced by telling the story behind the song, which involved him catching pleurisy and thinking how appropriate it was that he wound up with a Victorian-era lung disease), Tables and Chairs, The Happy Birthday Song, and of course, Dr. Stringz and Fake Palindromes (which he prefaced by talking about how this was the same point in the show the prior night where he'd dropped his violin and broke it; he said it was one of those moments you can really only look at and thing "wow, the worst really has happen. As a musician who's had her own instrument malfunctions in the middle of performances, I can certainly identify with that). The setlist really included a good deal of older material, for a tour that's supposed to be in promotion of his new album. There were very few lyrical foibles, and only a couple of missed looping cues, and unlike some other artists I love dearly (I'm looking at you, Rufus Wainwright), the mistakes were barely noticeable and he just kept pressing right on, turning the errors into just another part of the song.

Seeing performers like Andrew Bird really just makes me want to be a better musician. It's concerts like this one that I leave and find myself longing to be performer. One review I read said that it's obvious that Andrew Bird is probably one of those painfully shy, introverted people who feels most at home performing, and that's about it, and there's really something there that I (and I suspect, a lot of his fans) can identify with. The passion this guy has for music is ridiculous. Music really is a living, breathing thing for him, and songs are always being created and edited and reworked. You'll never hear a song be performed the same way twice. It's so impressive, and I don't know how you can walk away from a show like this without being in awe (unless your name is Jim DeRogatis and you use your music column as a way to show off your epic grudge against Andrew Bird, who apparently killed your puppy and stole your girlfriend all in the same day).

At the end of the concert, you can't help but feel like you've just witnessed something magical and one of a kind, and in a way, you have.

Check out my photos on Flickr.
Listen to Headsoak and Skin Is, My; audio from both ripped from the videos I took on my camera which I'm still waiting to finish uploading on Youtube.
Check out Andrew Bird and A Hawk and a Hacksaw online.
othersideofthis: (yes there will be snacks)
Things I will never get tired of: Andrew Bird live. Phenomenal as always. My fifth row seats were just about perfection, except for the fact that the dude in front of me was, as usual, like 7 feet tall. Fortunately I had an aisle seat so I just spent most of the show leaning out into the aisle.

Manuel was a little underwhelmed; he said the concert reminded him of everything he hated about art school (for the uninitiated, while his degree is in business/management information systems, he was an art major for a couple of years). But, you know, whatever.

He ended up opening with "Why?" which was damn amazing and sexy and perfect, and it made me happy. While he did a lot of material off of the new album, he threw in plenty of older things, including Headsoak, which Nora O'Connor popped in for (she's sung on pretty much all of his records and is sort of a Chicago music staple; she did another song, too, which I can't recall by name right now). It was a pretty good mix of songs, and of course included Dr. Stringz, a song he did for a childrens' show where he sings about being able to magically fix any stringed instrument -- which is hilarious because last night he broke his violin during the next song (Fake Palindromes, which rocked just as much tonight as ever). It just sort of slipped out of his hands and the neck broke off from the body. Yikes. He got it all fixed up, of course, and it didn't stop him from flailing around with the thing anyway.

Anyhow, impressive show all around. Maybe I will have more coherent thoughts later. I have pictures and video that I need to upload.

The moral of the story: I want to squish him and hug him and give him a sandwich and then make out with him.

The end.

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othersideofthis: (Default)
oh, medusa

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