So Calvin College is currently in the middle of the 10th biennial Festival of Faith and Music, a 3-day conference highlighting both academic approaches to music and the diversity of American music.
We have speakers like Chuck Klosterman and Daniel White Hodge, as well as concerts from performers like Welcome Wagon, but above all else, I am excited the most to see Andrew Bird, my favorite musician of all time.
For the unfamiliar, Bird is a Chicago-born singer/songwriter whose decades-long career spans from jazz to folk to rock and everything in between. His abilities on guitar, glockenspiel and especially violin, as well as his singing and whistling, set him apart from everyone else in the indie music culture.
His lyrics are cryptic on first listen sometimes but on repeats you start to maybe get a glimpse of what he means and draw your own conclusion. They’re great for inspiring one’s own imaginative flights of fancy.
Here are some of his songs that I really like. Check them out and I will update this post later with my thoughts on the concert.
UPDATE: The concert was…well, everything I ever suspected an Andrew Bird show would be from watching his live performances: it was euphoric, intimate yet sprawling, and transcendant. It’s probably the only concert I will ever go to in my life where I can sing along to just about every song.
I say just about because Bird showed off a couple of new songs, one of which was called “Alaski at Night” and featured in its refrain, “Come back to Chicago/The city of light.” So yeah, Paris has to give up that title now apparently.
Bird was also surprisingly open and honest with the audience, even working the crowd like a stand-up comedian at times. When introducing the song “Something Biblical,” which has the refrain “Take your apples from the earth/And your fingerlings from the sky,” he explained its origins have to do with the fact that potatoes, in French, are referred to as “apples of the earth.” Noting the inverse, Bird said he then changed potato to “fingerlings” because “‘Potatoes’ is an inherently unlyrical word.”
Bird played most of the show himself, alternating from wailing on his violin to plucking it like a guitar to strumming along on guitar, all the while accompanied by his famous barrage of looping pedals, which warped and layered sounds in all sorts of crazy ways. Then, he was joined for a four-song set by Mason Jar Music, the famous Brooklyn-audio-visual/musical collective who are here to perform with indie folk artist Josh Garrels tomorrow night. They were joyous together in their electrified rural sound, and the energy and goodwill spread to the audience.
I felt transcendent and elated, folks. I was enraptured tonight. It was a glorious, beautiful feeling and I shall never ever forget it.