The musical highlight of my year, so far, was last week's Andrew Bird concert at the Orpheum Theatre in L.A.
I knew I'd like the music - I've been listening to Andrew Bird since I saw him in concert in Chicago at the famed Metro (I think) around the release of The Swimming Hour, which came out in 2001, and I'm now the proud owner of four and a half of his CDs (I used some store credits to download part of The Mysterious Production of Eggs, but never got around to buying the rest). But this show was particularly interesting because of how Bird performs his songs in concert these days. For most of them, he begins by whistling and/or playing violin solos into a microphone and recording them as samples, then playing them back later in the song as backing tracks.
I don't know if that makes sense. Maybe you had to be there - or maybe I need to work harder at writing clearly. Well, anyway, the result is pretty nice to listen to.
In the few days since the show, a few people have asked me, "What kind of music does he play?" And I haven't been able to come up with much of an answer. It's sort of pop, but with classical-inspired violin and world-class whistling, in front of electric guitars and a drum kit. Is there a genre for that? Check out his MySpace page for free samples from his new album and maybe you can come up with something.
Three other things about the concert:
1) It was one of the rare occasions in my concertgoing history that I actually enjoyed the opening act. In this case, the opening act was Loney, Dear, which sounds like the name of a band, but apparently is the stage name of a Swedish* guy (real name: Emil Svanangen), who happens to front a five-piece band. Whatever the case, the music was pretty cool. This might be completely wrong, but I thought it was sort of like Keane, but with a beat.
2) I'm pretty sure James Spader was sitting three rows in front of me. I only caught a quick glimpse, and it was dark, and I mostly could only the back of his head, but still, I'm pretty sure. James, if you're reading this and that wasn't you, I apologize. Hope to see you at another concert in the future, though.
3) Despite the fact that they spell its name with "Theatre" instead of "Theater," the Orpheum is a pretty spectacular venue. Built in 1926, it's further evidence that they really don't make 'em like they used to. This photo doesn't even really do it justice, but it's impossible to imagine anyone building a hall like the Orpheum in 2009:
If you have any excuse to go see anything there, you definitely should.
* Quite a coincidence. A few hours before I wrote this post - which is the only time I've mentioned something Swedish on my blog - SFTC registered its first-ever visitor from Sweden. Seriously, what are the odds? I hope that Swedish person comes back to read about Loney, Dear.