It’s tough for a comedian to open up for a famous musician. The crowd isn’t paying to see you, and if you’re Eugene Mirman on tour with Andrew Bird, you’re going to be playing cavernous venues full of very mellow crowds.
But Mirman beat the odds on Friday, pulling a crowd of thirtysomethings (seemingly all on dates) in to his 25-minute set. Mirman’s more like a funny friend than a strict standup. He brought along an abysmal report card from his junior high years, on which the teacher hopefully added that “he does not have a disability.”
About half an hour after Mirman’s set, Andrew Bird walked onstage alone, and set about showing off his classical violin abilities (pizzicato and with bow), mixing the sounds with his own custom-made looping and effects pedals. The audience was rapt. You could feel girls swooning from the back of the theater to the stage (Twitter had lit up earlier in the day with girls oohing and aahing over sightings of Bird on his bicycle in Westport).
“I’ve been so sick,” Bird told the audience. “This is the first night I’ve come out of it.” He went on to explain that he was happy to finally have a real KC show, and that the band made a special playlist for the night.
Onstage were a couple of handmade bell-shaped speakers that Bird played with last winter in an art installation at the MCA in Chicago. The speakers twirled under a handful of twinkly, cellentani-shaped lighting elements, all in front of a colored backdrop that pulsed relaxingly. The whole show was really relaxing, actually, and the police at the event seemed to notice, spending more time checking out their cell phones and the KU game than the audience.
Speaking of the KU game, I have to admit that I snuck out a couple of times to keep my eye on my alma mater’s run to the Final Four, but Bird’s call ultimately proved stronger. The guy is masterful and a pleasure to watch perform. There were a couple of false starts, but knowing Bird’s performance style
, he relished the uneasiness and spontaneity of the performance. Here’s to many more proper KC appearances.
Desperation Breeds …
Fitz and the Dizzyspells
Give It Away
Near Death Experience Experience
Orpheo Looks Back
Tables and Chairs
So Much Wine (Handsome Family)
I’m Goin’ Home (Charley Patton)