We kicked off a pretty packed weekend of music last night with something on the mellower side: Andrew Bird with Apostle of Hustle at the Riviera Theatre.

Photo by Blank Campbell

Photo by Blank Campbell

More photos and commentary after the jump…

Photo by Blank Campbell

Due to some dinner plans running a bit later than expected, we were only able to catch the tail end of Apostle of Hustle, who must have started exactly at the 8 p.m. showtime. But what we heard, we liked a lot. There sound was a nice, mellow indie rock, which definitely has me in agreement with Justin’s initial take. With great melodies and tight hooks, this band has solid future ahead of them. I only wished they could’ve been allowed to play a bit later.

But my annoyance with the tight scheduling quickly dissipated as Andrew Bird took the stage and got things moving with some tracks from his latest album, Armchair Apocrypha



If you haven’t heard Andrew Bird’s music, it is an eclectic mix of violin, electric guitar, xylophone, some soft/tasteful drumming, and Mr. Bird’s staple whistling. This man is basically a musical savant. He not only has a mastery of all of his instruments, but has also perfected the art of the loop pedal and utilizing a nice array of other effects pedals. He builds a large cacophony of digital loops, mainly using his violin, while over-laying jangly electric guitar riffs, eery whistles, etc…There are times when, with just three men on stage, it sounds as if he’s got an entire orchestra playing. He is helped immensely by his tasteful drummer (who also loops keyboards and effects), but the sound is largely created by Bird himself. But it’s less of a looping jam session than what someone like Keller Williams might create. It’s more of a large swath of classical instrumentation designed around his brilliant song structures and intellectually quirky lyrics.

Photo by Blank Campbell

Photo by Blank Campbell

Although he played some older favorites from 2005’s The Mysterious Production of Eggs, the focus was clearly his latest album, Armchair Apocrypha, which I have really been growing to love. I’m not enough of an Andrew Bird fanatic to offer an entire setlist, but the highlights for me were “Fiery Crash,” “Scythian Empires,” and perhaps my favorite from the new disc, “Plasticities.”

For the most part, Bird quietly introduced his songs and band members, but at one point he told a story of living in the nearby Uptown neighborhood in his early twenties, and hanging out at the Green Mill, a legendary Uptown jazz club. He concluded his anecdote with something along the lines of “When you’re at the Green Mill at 11 in the morning on a Sunday, where else can you really go from there?”



Overall, this was a great way to kick off the Green Apple music festivities in Chicago!

Special thanks to Tara at Arts & Crafts for making this show possible.