Song of the Bird

Tonight, Washington, DC’s 9.30 Club had the privilege of hosting the innovative multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and accomplished whistler, Andrew Bird, in on their stage. The club, instead of being filled with smoke, due to the Districts recent smoking ban, was saturated instead with the rich, gourmet tones of “Andrew Bird and the Z-Effect” or the “Electric Platypus,” as Bird christened his ensemble tonight.

andbird.jpgWhile the looping drum beats of percussionist, Martin Dosh, weaved themselves within each other, the maestro entered the stage adorned with black and white formal-wear, with the exception of a wrinkled, silver necktie. The crowd went up in applause as Bird picked up his violin and began to play. The club was engulfed in suffocating waves of violin, bass, and eventually segued into a fragile whistle.

After crafting a chaotic, yet beautiful overture to the evening’s program, Bird and his trio commenced in playing the flamenco-tinged song, “Imitosis,” from his latest album, Armchair Apocrypha. It was in this song Bird exhibited his command over his “looper,” a device that samples musical phrases and repeats them until a new phrase (or silence) is employed. Bird begins by plucking out a melody, then hammering the downbeats on top of the body, and finally welds them together with strains of harmony. And this is only the introduction.

Throughout a majority of the set, Bird alternates between violin, guitar, glockenspiel, and see n’ say, creating sounds only made possible by the embodiment of a four-armed deity. Though Bird is clearly not of divine descent, it is as though he channeled the quadri-armed elephant god, Ganesha, for these preternatural abilities. It is evident through the intricacy of Bird’s compositions, that this virtuoso aims for nothing but perfection, and achieves it with grace. The songs propel forward, as the trio “specializes in tempo,” but at their conclusions, often take on a sort of détente, and their melodies become less constricted, and more flowing architecture, resembling a feeling of satori, or enlightenment.

Andrew Bird takes on the impeccable technique of Joshua Bell, the aura of Ravi Shankar, and the jest of a child, blending it together to develop something that is solely belonging to himself. This space cadet has conquered his craft and continues to advance the musical frontier further and further.

Photographs and a recording of the May 20th show at the 9.30 Club are available at or in the link below. Andrew Bird is embarking on a European tour with Martin Dosh and Jeremy Ylvisaker, and returns to the US in July. Bird’s eight studio album, Armchair Apocrypha, is out now.


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