02 December 2009

Andrew Bird, St. Vincent @ Asbury Hall at Babeville

First of all, what a venue! Loving these western New York venues, between this and the Artpark, two of the finest venues I've seen. This being an old converted church, converted by Ani Difranco in fact. The stage is backed by a huge (like 3 story huge) curtain, and the open floor is surrounded by a small balcony with seating. The sound from the front side of the balcony left a lot to be desired, but on the floor it was much better.

Two bands I have been dying to see for a long while dragged me back to Buffalo on a school night. St. Vincent was as good as I had hoped. Annie Clarke's guitar style was not only for the effect of the sound, but for effect of the motion, and emotion. With each strum her body herked and her body jerked, it bangled and jangled. Reminiscent of David Byrne, her playing was both music and acting simultaneously, and it oozed rockstar. The music was enveloping and transporting, you didn't stop to think who, what, why or when, you just enjoyed the ride.

Within 2 minutes of taking the stage, Andrew Bird had already whistled, glockenspieled, fiddled, and spun his little gramophone-type thingy, and looped them all together. He showed us his whole bag of tricks right up front, and then proceeded to use them to create his grand but simple tunes. Somehow I had been completely unobservant to the fact that St. Vincent's equipment didn't entirely or hardly even partially left the stage. So when he continued along solo, song after song, without introducing a band of any sort, I started to wonder if all those extra mics were going to go unused the whole night. Finally over an hour into the set he brought Annie Clarke on for a couple of tunes, and then immediately all of St. Vincent joined for a couple more. Whereas an Andrew Bird veteran might have been loving the rare treat of a completely solo show, I found it to be a bit tiring (standing for such mellow music) and repetitive (the whole this is the part of the song where I set up the loops for the rest of the song got old after a few times through) and not the best introduction to seeing him live. Good, but would have been better with the band. So the sit-ins were a bit of a relief and definitely the highlight of the show. Oh and by the way, it was awesome!

Download the show.

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