Andrew Bird Lights Up SummerStage

SummerstageBody1Photo Courtesy of FDRMX  

Luke Temple opened for Andrew Bird and the Hands of Glory on this past muggy Tuesday night at SummerStage Presents. Seated with a his acoustic guitar, and his drummer Austin on his left, who also covered basslines and keys, Temple sang in a listless, meandering style. The ambience was perfect as people slowly sauntered in, beers in hand, laying bread-and-cheese picnics on blankets on the astroturf.  His lyrics about childhood, memories of parents and encounters with individuals made you think of camping in the woods, wandering through art museums, or watching old home videos.  His closing song especially brought to mind Simon and Garfunkel’s “A Most Peculiar Man.” The set received a politely appreciative response from the audience, as people intent on seeing Andrew Bird continued ambling into the humid arena.  It set the stage nicely for neo-folk show to carry on.

Summerstagebody2Photo Courtesy of FDRMX 

Starting out with just his violin and loop pedal, Andrew Bird began with several solo songs he layered on, adding guitar at times, his signature vintage whistle, and a whirring double-horn speaker illuminiated by a warm spotlight every time it spun. The folk-fans began scooting closer to their neighbors as they inched towards the stage. Luckily the humidity was finally starting to dissipate as the sun set and a breeze blew through every so often.  After a handful of mysterious, eerie solo songs, Bird brought up the Hands of Glory, who wielded a pedal steel guitar, an upright bass, drums, guitar, and backup vocals.

Bird’s lyrics were phenomenal. He addresses contemporary fringe issues (any of which can be quite heavy to bring up in normal conversation) and presents them nicely with a folk indie rock sound, backed by an incredibly tight band (I mean these musicians were solid). “The clouds they keep on seeding but the country remains dry,” he sang. He introduced song these lyrics belong to as about “something Biblical happening,” but mused it was about “locusts or the apocalypse or something.” This intriguing number was followed by a jug band song called Railroad Bill, which the audience immediately began clapping and bouncing along to.

SummerstageBody3Photo Courtesy of FDRMX

One highlight song was “Dear Old Greenland,” from his other band “Bowl of Fire,” which the crowd was very pleased to hear Bird announce, and made your ears prick up of their own volition when the tune began. “Give It Away” was sung around one condenser mic, all four of them in front of the drummer, which was a very cool sight to see, but also aided the quality of the harmonies. “When That Helicopter Comes” was bluesy with a bass line that sounded like “Come Together” by the Beatles. One country tune mixed in a bossa nova beat; the neo-folk novelties never ceased! And that tight backing band had the pleasantly full and tipsy audience off the turf and dancing next to each other like happy sardines in a can. Bird wrapped up the set early, clearly anticipating the cry for an encore, which he happily fulfilled with three songs: “Cathedral in the Dell,” a “Handsome Family” cover off the new Bird album “Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…” and “Don’t Be Scared.” The crowd was quickly cleared out (no chance of going back in for a forgotten picnic blanket once you passed that security guard), but it was a school night anyway. All in all, this Tuesday’s SummerStage show was an enjoyable way to spend an otherwise sticky summer night.

SHARE