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Friday, December 15

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Concert Tue May 15 2012

Review: Andrew Bird @ The Auditorium Theatre, 5/12/12

Excitement was in the air Saturday night as concertgoers eagerly awaited Andrew Bird to step onstage. Bird hasn't been backed by a full band during his Chicago tour stops over the past few years, as he lent his talents to unconventional and extraordinary venues, such as his 2011 show at the Museum of Contemporary Art introducing his innovative exhibit collaboration with Ian Schneller, or 2009 and 2010 when he played intimate, magnificently beautiful sets at Fourth Presbyterian Church. Having attended each of those shows, I was unsure of how the acoustics would travel in such a large venue as The Auditorium Theatre, but I knew somehow it would exceed my expectations.

Mucca Pazza opened the show, and until you see them perform, you won't truly understand the scope of their musical efforts. Andrew Bird put it perfectly during his set when he complimented them and described them as "30 people all committed to the same idea," while their website pegs them as being an "astounding circus-punk marching band," if that's something you can even hone in on as a genre.

Their set began with solely four band members on stage, as they were joined steadily by their 26 counterparts; some were dressed in cheerleading uniforms waving pom poms, while others appeared in full marching band attire. The concept of this group was daunting to the audience at first, as members chuckled and peered quizzically at the stage. However, after a song or two, audience members became mesmerized by Mucca Pazza's stage presence as they produced technically intricate pieces with impressive stage choreography, which were broken apart only by the short cheers Mucca Pazza performed in between. Interacting with the crowd was a top priority, as the cheerleaders of the group would frequently hop off stage and run through the crowded theatre aisles. Mucca Pazza left a large majority of audience members in awe, wondering what they just witnessed, while I honestly think in a few years this group will have their own shows to headline.

Andrew Bird's set contrasted with that of Mucca Pazza's; while the latter represented a sector of music many were unfamiliar with, Bird's set felt like coming home. The acoustics in The Auditorium Theatre allowed the sound to project into each corner of the venue with equal tenacity, making even I, who was not as close as I wanted to be, feel as if I were front row center. Bird had a way of addressing the audience during the set as if we were all revered friends catching up after time apart; as he stood in front of a sold out theatre, he remained at his most humble and down to earth.

Bird packed a set full of newer songs, such as sonically intricate and layered "Hole in the Ocean Floor," gentle folk number "Danse Caribe," and crowd-pleaser "Bein' Green." However, Bird also rewarded the audience with more obscure numbers such as "Why" and the combination of "Dear Dirty / The Crown Salesman." Andrew Bird has a knack for creating beautiful pieces of music that are cohesive and hinge on precision, and his set was no different. Bird invited Nora O'Connor from his Bowl of Fire days onstage at several points during the set, as she joined in during "Give It Away" and encore number "So Much Wine." Bird also decided to create "old style" versions of fan favorites as he and band members would sing huddled around one lone microphone. Ending the set with older tune "Fake Palindromes" which garnered many a cheer from audience members, Bird proved that he has become a master at his craft of his distinct style of whistling, violin-playing, genius influenced music, one that audiences will never tire of.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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