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Belle and Sebastian and Andrew Bird delight generations of fans at Mann Center

Belle and Sebastian | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN

“Young and hip and beautiful, that’s what we used to be,” Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch laughed. He was referencing the opening set by Porches, now almost three hours ago at the Mann Center, but spun it into self-depricating self-reflection in the middle of a lively and high-energy set.

It was a night full of many instruments, and attendees got their money’s worth with hours of music during sets by Porches, Andrew Bird and a delightful selection of songs by Belle and Sebastian. After Porches played some of their synthpop jams, including a very deadpan version of “Car,” Andrew Bird took the stage with his band. Continue reading →

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Listen to Andrew Bird’s Mountain Stage performance from West Virginia

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

NPR’s Mountain Stage recently aired folk staple Andrew Bird’s gig in Charleston, West Virginia. His masterful instrumentation shines in this 30+ minute set, sporting his signature whistling and plucky energy to nail tracks from his 2016 Grammy-nominated record Are You Serious and beyond.

Bird is accompanied by fellow musicians Steven Elliott, Alan Hampton, Kevin O’Donnell on guitar, bass and drums (respectively) and The Flat Five’s Nora O’ Connor joins Bird on backup vocals.

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Just Announced: Belle and Sebastian return to The Mann this summer with Andrew Bird and Porches

belle and sebastian
Belle and Sebastian | Photo by Kate McCann

Okay, indiepop sweethearts, have we got a show for you. Bookish Scottish faves Belle and Sebastian will return to U.S. soil for a headlining tour with orchestral singer-songwriter Andrew Bird and DIY electropopper Porches — and it includes a stop in Philadelphia on Thursday, August 3rd at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.  Continue reading →

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Seriously: Andrew Bird soars at the Electric Factory

Andrew Bird | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Andrew Bird | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

The title to Andrew Bird‘s newest record is as much a challenge to entry as it is a question — Are You Serious omits the question mark when written in order to ask an even larger question: Are you ready to face the whimsical whistler’s most intensive release yet? On Monday night at the Electric Factory, Bird asked the tough questions of both himself and the assembled audience, and perhaps the answers won’t be easily forthcoming.

Playing a setlist primarily composed of Serious material, he wowed fans one slowly swelling song after another through the night. Bird got the night started in the same way that Serious does—the rollicking, guitar-led noir of “Capsized,” a great introduction to the new cuts. As more of a casual fan, it’s been hard to decypher what of Bird’s discography is necessary listening, but after seeing most of Serious performed before me on Monday night, it’s apparent even to me that these are home runs, instant classics amidst a career already filled with those. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Andrew Bird at Electric Factory, Wild Jim Banfill and His Rolling Rocks at Bourbon and Branch

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird | Photo by Reuben Cox | courtesy of the artist

Andrew Bird brings his newly-released LP Are You Serious to the Electric Factory tonight. In an interview with The Key last week, Bird discussed the personal outlook of the new work, as well as his prolific output. Watch the video for “Capsized” below and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Wither Not: A conversation with Andrew Bird ahead of his Electric Factory gig

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird | Photo by Reuben Cox | courtesy of the artist

“Get out your dictionaries,” Andrew Bird instructs us on the title track of Are You Serious, the debonair multi-instrumentalist’s thirteenth-or-so album (it’s difficult to know what counts). It arrives tomorrow, on April Fools Day – yes, seriously – in advance of his appearance at the Electric Factory on Monday.  Perhaps a sly callback to a similar line on “Measuring Cups” (from 2005’s landmark The Mysterious Production of Eggs), it’s also just sound advice when dealing this guy, as avid Bird-ers know well; as he muses self-reflexively earlier in the song: “[I] used to be so willfully obtuse – or is the word abstruse?”  

On Serious, though, without fully laying off the brainy science references and polysyllabic repartee – check his discursive, meta-romantic exchange with Fiona Apple on the bluesy “Left-Handed Kisses” – Bird offers some of his most plainspoken, disarmingly personal lyrics to date. Significantly, the album comes in the wake of both marriage and the birth of his now four-year-old son.  It also features some of his most driving, immediate music in ages, encompassing tense, meaty funk (“Capsized”), Afrobeat inflections (“The New Saint Jude”) and bright, punchy power-pop (the atom-smashing “Puma”) alongside his more typical rustic fiddlings and gypsy-jazz balladry.

Even at its peppiest, Bird’s brand of thoughtful, folksy indie rock isn’t typically the sort of thing that packs venues like the Electric Factory.  Performing solo and (as he does on this tour) with a band, he’s made his name with dazzling violin-work, live looping and uncanny whistling; it’s a subtly spectacular performance style that, for better or worse, benefits greatly from an intimate setting. When Key editor John Vettese caught up with him on the phone from a Nashville tour stop this week, Bird discussed the contrast of performing in big rooms versus small spaces, feelings of being on display in performance and writing, and how a virtuosic output keeps his chops from withering. He also reflected on his beginnings with the Music of Hair LP, which turns 20 this year.

Read the interview below and listen to Are You Serious in full via NPR Music. -K. Ross Hoffman Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Listen to Fiona Apple sing w/ Andrew Bird on “Left Hand Kisses,” & Jack White to perform w/ “The Muppets”

Andrew Bird sings with Fiona Apple on “Left Hand Kisses,” the 2nd song Andrew shared from his upcoming album “Are You Serious?” which comes out April 1st. Listen to the song. Continue reading →

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Listen to Matt Berninger and Andrew Bird’s rendition of “A Lyke Wake Dirge”

Photo via
Photo via Consequence of Sound

Matt Berninger, of The National, has been doing a lot of collaborations lately. In April, he sang with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Alec Ounsworth on “Coming Down” off of CYPH’s Only Run. He also appeared on Walter Martin’s “We Like the Zoo (‘Cause We’re Animals Too)” from We’re All Young Together and “I’ll See You In My Dreams” with Vince Giordano and the Night Hawks on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire Volume 2. Last but not least, The National did a cover of “The Rains of Castamere” from HBO’s Game of Thrones late last year.

More recently, Berninger paired up with Andrew Bird to sing “A Lyke Wake Dirge” for AMC’s Revolutionary War drama Turn. In a manner befitting a Puritan dirge about the travel of a soul to purgatory, Bird layers on his signature heavy strings. The vocals starts off with Berninger’s low voice, joined later by Bird’s, and then accompanied by a choir. The song is driven by a percussive acoustic guitar. The overall combination is unsettling, which suits the subject matter perfectly. The song is the second song that Berninger did for Turn. Earlier this year, he released “Hush“, the theme song featuring Joy Williams.

Catch the National August 30th as a part of Made in America. Get more information at the XPN Concert Calender. Listen to “A Lyke Wake Dirge” below.