Concert Review: Andrew Bird feat. Haley Bonar

By Patricia Wright

If there is a god, they must have spent a little more time making Andrew Bird. At his concert this past Saturday at First Avenue, there was a palpable notion of being in the presence of some kind of otherworldly genius. When the lanky, suit-and-tied frame of Mr. Bird took the stage, his unassuming presence was immediately overshadowed by the quick, crisp notes flowing out of his violin. I was very familiar with most of the songs from his albums, but the beauty of hearing him live was awe-inspiring. He started with “Plasticities,” one of my personal favorites. After he started out alone on stage, expertly looping his violin and whistling, the rest of his band came on stage. His drummer was Martin Dosh, Macalester professor Paul Dosh’s musician brother, which was exciting in terms of Minnesota musical representation. Andrew Bird’s stage presence was both charming and slightly eccentric, mostly because of his funny conducting gestures with his xylophone-specific drumstick. The show was sold out but it was the most calm, evenly spaced concert crowd I’ve ever experienced at First Ave. This may have been due to the type of music Andrew Bird plays, ie., indie rock with classical influences and intellectual lyrics. The fact that it was standing only detracted from the overall enjoyment I had because I was too focused on the ache in my lower back rather than the music. Seating would have been greatly appreciated. Aside from that, every song Andrew Bird and co. played was complex and aurally gorgeous. He also did a precious cover of Kermit the Frog’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” to go along with the recent Muppet movie fervor. The end of the concert was unique in that it had two encores. The first was comprised of several folk songs with singing accompaniment from the opener, Haley Bonar, his guitarist, and an older woman who looked like a folk-singer version of The Incredibles’ Edna Mode. The second encore was shorter but more intense and ended with his most popular song “Heretics.” As the other calm concert-goers dispersed, my show mate, Maya Weisinger, and I managed to mill around long enough at the coat check and the restroom to notice Mr. Bird himself chatting backstage away from the tiny crowd waiting for a chance to be photographed and autographed. When we got our turn to meet him he accepted our praise quietly and gave a small smile for the picture I took with his arm around my awe-struck shoulder. If any of you are into Andrew Bird, I highly recommend going to see him. We all need to experience a true musical genius at some point in our lives.