Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Media Overload!

So this past weekend C. and I went and heard Andrew Bird play at the Crystal Ballroom. The show started at about 9:30 with the opening act, Apostle of Hustle. They were ok. Their music was eccentric and bounced around a number of different genres including 80’s-influenced indie rock and Calexico-style swinging Southwest. While they didn’t cause me listening pain and agony, I’m not sure I’d pick up their CD—yet. I haven’t done extensive research on them, but to me they had the sound of a slightly unpolished, inexperienced band. The one recording I heard before the show sounded quite a bit better than the live performance. I’m glad that they’re getting to tour with Andrew Bird, though, because every little show helps a band sound better.

As for the Bird man himself? The show was fantastic. He played a long set with lots of music from his new album and plenty thrown in from the old ones. Even if the music hadn’t charmed me on some deep, base level, his stage performance would have won me over. Barefoot and blazered, he waltzed around the Crystal Ballroom in a haphazard graceful way. He’d stumble back and forth, curls flying, coaxing his fiddle and whistling. It was like—and I say this with no intent of belittling—watching a Tim Burton-esque Victorian mad music-scientist come to life. The swirly, soaring whistling, the fiddling that veered back and forth between Classical European and Appalachian screech, the green scarf he referred to as “seaweed”, and the spinning (quite literally) gramophone seemed to all come together in a brilliant, steaming, bubbling elixir. If music could be a beautiful experiment concocted out of green glass, bird song, spider webs, rain gutters, and the sound of a high-rise apartment building—it would sound like that concert.

I would see him again in a moment, and I recommend that you see him too. Wonderful.

We let our brains relax and rest for a few days, and then last night C and I went and heard Michael Chabon read from his new book, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel. He’s an excellent public speaker (not all authors are!), does a nice job reading aloud, and had a grinning sense of humor and good cheer when answering questions to the packed (PACKED!!!!) audience. I was surprised that Powell’s didn’t hold the event at a larger venue, actually, given Mr. Chabon’s rampant popularity and recent appearance on Fresh Air.

The novel itself seems like it will be an interesting romp in the style of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. The selection he read sparkled with his usual wry style. As evidenced by his success (Kavalier and Clay won a Pulitzer a few years back), the deft weave of funny and touching appeals to a wide audience of intellectuals and “lay” readers alike. It appears to be back in full-tilt in this new novel. Eventually I imagine I’ll pick it up in paperback (buying hardcover books is a tough thing for me!), but for now I’ll have to just trust that the impression I received it correct, and listen as the reviews (and interviews) roll in. If you’ve read it, or have it on your shelf to read, let me know. I’ll be interested in your review.

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