The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Live Shots

Reviewed by David Lynch, March 19, 2004, Music

Andrew Bird

Hole in the Wall, Friday, March 19 Hoping to turn the Hole in the Wall into a Bowl of Fire, Andrew Bird began his set – the halfway slot of the InRadio-sponsored eve – by playing his violin in a seemingly simple manner. Soon, things changed. While Bird's classical technique immediately screamed through his Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, more than one violin could be heard through the speakers. Canned samples? Nope, melody lines and rhythmic phrases Bird captured live via a digital black box, played back in layers while Bird harmonized along – like Nini Camps and Joseph Arthur. Ditto on the second tune, although this time the Windy City multi-instrumentalist played pizzicato on his four-stringer, holding it like a guitar. Once this pointalistic rhythm was established, Bird evoked Paganini's adagio spirit in emotive and masterful bow strokes before singing overtop of the mélange. Halfway through his seven-song set, Bird again used impromptu looping as a compositional tool. After establishing a violin-based foundation, Bird picked a black Silvertone guitar, while also singing, whistling like Fred Astaire danced, and playing glockenspiel. Bird clearly has a surfeit of talent, and the ensuing sonic tapestry pleased the crowd. The much-loved Austin club was full of local record shop employees, conference attendees who've caught the buzz on Bird, tavern locals, and fellow musicians like Jenny Toomey and Ani DiFranco. No surprise DiFranco was in attendance, since she recently signed Bird to her Righteous Babe label, putting out last year's Weather Systems. Throughout his set, he achieved the Bowl of Fire goal. Contained yet brimming intensity; emotive amplitude without the requisite earplugs. After trying out the brand-new "Nervous Tick," Bird announced "Master Fade" to thankful audience whoops. Some artists have a bandful of talent – all by themselves.

Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.