The Brown Theatre
BY ROXANN SLATE
Artist with a capitol A is a loaded term. It is a symbol of the
traditional patriarchal master of His trade. Everything the Artist
touches becomes a work of art. The artist and his studio are sacred
and mystical. The creative process is something that should not be
dismissed and the true work of art cannot be denied.
I am a serious Andrew Bird fan. I attended this concert knowing I ran
the risk of falling hopelessly in love with him and having to move to
the outskirts of Chicago to be his friend and drink coffee with him in
a sunny, farm-house kitchen.
The venue was a mediocre concert hall with great acoustics that made
up for its faux historical renovations. The opening band, Le Loup,
from Washington DC was a charming and solid opener. This seven-piece
collective fit somewhere between Broken Social Scene and The Boy Least
Likely To. My hope for them in the future is that they can maintain
the cutsie pop charm that warmed my heart and the swelling sounds that
gave me goose bumps. They had great energy and brought out Andrew
Bird’s younger side.
The crowd was a mixed demographic. To be honest, I brought my mom,
and she loved it. Between the venue and Bird’s suit the evening had
the potential to be stuffy, but Le Loup started the evening off on a
sincerely vibrant note.
Bird took the stage light footed, slightly hunched and carrying his
violin case. He stood all evening in a ring of speakers and
megaphones. It was just the Artist surrounding himself in His art. We
watched the whole creative process. The sounds rose out of him. He
didn’t play the guitar or the violin; he willed them to make noise.
You could see when he was pleased, and when it wasn’t working, he told
us, or just stopped and started over again. At first, I thought he was
perfectly isolated. He was playing alone, interacting solely with his
own looped musical phrases, but then it changed. I no longer saw him
as an Artist, in the unapproachable and idealized way. I began to see
him as a little kid in stocking feet playing with his glockenspiel,
jolting about his room with his curious George stuffed animal as his
Bird told us about his pet chickens that were eaten by raccoons, high
school friends that met tragic ends and shared his momentary
frustration with his out-of-tune violin. He took the audience through
an elaborate spectrum of admiration, beginning with god-like
perfection and ending with more human form.