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Mace & Crown | September 26, 2017

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Andrew Bird Serenades at the 9:30 Club in D.C.

Andrew Bird Serenades at the 9:30 Club in D.C.
Shannon Jay
Staff Writer
Andrew Bird (left) performing with his band at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Photo by Shannon Jay.

Andrew Bird (left) performing with his band at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Photo by Shannon Jay.

Andrew Bird stopped by the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, April 5 in support of his new album, “Are You Serious,” which was released just four days prior. The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist last graced the nation’s capital in 2014.

The night started with openers Boogarins from Brazil, bringing their psychedelic tunes which had the crowd swaying. The band engaged in a Pink Floyd-esque jam session before introducing themselves. Lead singer Dinho Almeida thanked Andrew Bird for adding them to the tour and was seemingly humbled by the sold-out show. While the band has played in DC three times before, Almeida said the 9:30 club was the biggest venue they’d played yet.

The room filled and the gaps in the crowd closed as the stage was set for Andrew Bird and his band. At 9:30 on the dot, the lights lowered and the audience roared as the band members trickled on stage. Bird and the gang started the set with “Capsized,” the first track off the new record.

Bird took a brief break from his new tracks with older songs such as 2009’s “Tenuousness” and 2012’s “Lusitania” before returning to his new material including “Left Hand Kisses,” his duet with Fiona Apple. Bird sang both parts, playfully apologized for Apple’s absence noting she was “busy.”

Bird also apologized for all the new and unfamiliar material he played, and thanked the audience for bearing with him through it all. Bird’s violin plucking, elaborate whistling, and creative use of a loop machine, however, created an equally spontaneous yet precise show that needed no remorse.

To make up for it, though, the band played some of Bird’s biggest hits from his 2007 breakout album, “Armchair Apocrypha,” starting with “Imitosis.” As Bird’s majestic violin introduced “Plasticities,” a disco ball dropped from the ceiling and engulfed the room in twirling beams of light. Bird recorded whistling into his loop machine and as he played it back in reverse, the disco ball spun in the opposite direction. Bird utilized his loop machine again for “Three White Horses,” recording an angelic 4 to 6 part harmony.

Bird finished his set with yet another new song called “Bellevue.” The track’s completion just missed the mark to make it onto “Are You Serious” Bird said, meaning the lucky DC audience was one of the first to hear the track.

Andrew Bird (center) with his band. Photo by Shannon Jay.

Andrew Bird (center) with his band. Photo by Shannon Jay.

After a brief absence, Bird and the band emerged once more for an intimate encore. Spotlit around a single mic with their acoustic instruments, the trio played one more new song before diving into “Give it Away.”

Songs new and old had a few hiccups, such as false starts, wrong lyrics, technical difficulties and timing issues. Seeing minor mistakes in the classically trained musician’s masterful composition was endearing rather than cringe-worthy. These quirks, along with Bird’s loop machine, made for a unique experience. “Every night,” Bird said, “I am rewriting all my songs for the audience.”

The stage darkened and the spotlight shined on Bird as he prepared the looping background melody on his violin for “Armchairs.” Once completed, he picked up a guitar and began singing the last song of the night. A perfect blend of mellow and epic, the climactic track was the perfect end to concert set.