Monday, April 23, 2007

Andrew Bird w/ Apostle of Hustle @ The Riviera

Let me begin by stating that I am not going to do this justice. Andrew Bird, Martin Dosh, and Jeremy Ylvisaker put on a captivating show, harmonizing on multiple levels, and I can not adequately capture the way this quaint, but dynamic performance resonated with the adoring fans. But I’ll try.

The show began with only percussionist extraordinaire Martin Dosh on stage, playing drums and other parts through various loops for the first three or four minutes. Bird and Ylvisaker entered mid-song, with Bird immediately casting aside his shoes to reveal socks that resembled fruit stripe gum. They joined Dosh on the tail end of the song before going into Imitosis. The audience was somewhere between enthusiastic and appreciative, which is a good place to be. Very early on in the show, I lamented not being able to give it the First Blush treatment. There are so many things that he does live which deviate from the recorded versions of his songs, and I can’t possibly note them all here. Sometimes when you see a band perform their songs live, the lyrics can seem clearer or somehow make the song more personal. With Bird, that’s true of the lyrics, but also of every sonic element. There is something overtly personal about everything you’re hearing. Seeing Bird live can be frustrating because his albums pretty much demand that you sing along. But because he loves to mix things up when he plays, it renders singing along impossible. I would imagine that even he doesn’t know which way a given song is going to go until he gets to it.

Having Ylvisaker in the mix is a great enhancement. At Lollapalooza, various songs were a bit flat compared to their album versions simply because the harmony on the vocals was missing. Ylvisaker’s presence was solely accompaniment in both singing and guitar, fitting in seamlessly with Dosh and Bird. Going in, I wondered if Bird could sonically fill a hall this large, but that was no problem. Directly behind him, there was a giant Leslie Speaker (rotating double-speaker Doppler system) that lent the performance a grandiose feel.

Nearly all songs performed appear on the new album. Bird is known for getting tired of playing the same songs over and over, so I was not surprised by the setlist. After closing the main set, Thax Douglas came out and read a poem on Bird. The band quickly returned and played a celebratory and triumphant version of Tables and Chairs. It was in this song that Bird appeared most in his element, not that he didn’t before that moment, but on this one, it really appeared that he was ecstatic to be playing in front of the home crowd. They closed with a stunning version of Don’t Be Scared which featured a reunion with Nora O’Connor. Their vocals intertwined and built to the climax of the song together, much like they do in the album version, but live it was so much more intense. I had goosebumps and even began to sweat a little. It’s a shame that the song is so short, because it was such a beautiful moment. But I guess that’s what they mean when they say beauty is fleeting…

Apostle of Hustle opened. I was somewhat eager to check them out due to the Broken Social Scene connection. Their first couple songs were boring me to death and I was about to write them off completely, but then they bounced back with some good stuff. I found that their instrumentals were far better than songs with vocals. That’s probably not a good thing, but I suppose it bodes well for their potential.

Tracklist as best I can recall:
Intro Instrumental
Fiery Crash
Dear Dirty (?)
Naming of Things
Simple X
Skin Is, My
Scythian Empires
Thax recites his poem
Tables and Chairs
Don’t be Scared


Anonymous said...

The first song was called Um, Circles And Squares, written by Martin Dosh. And I am very satisfied that they played at least one Dosh song because he is a truley talented artist.

Anonymous said...

Apostle of Hustle had two very tex-mex sounding songs in which Andrew sang in Spanish. I thought those were the two best songs they did.

Reed said...

Apparently Bird's version of the Leslie Speaker is called a Janus Horn, and you can see what the inventor says about Bird using it here.