I, like Em, went to see Andrew Bird last week. I appreciated all the pizzicato shredding and freaky whistling, but found I liked the more traditional songs best — “Fiery Crash,” “Plasticities,” and “Tables and Chairs,” this last a kind of homage to “Don’t Worry About the Government.” Which is good: we are well supplied with homages to the yelpy mid-period Talking Heads and need more homages to talky early-period Talking Heads.
Andrew Bird, though he might be too young to know it, has the exact same stage shtick as the great Steven Wright: a kind of mumbly I’m-saying-something-really-weird-and-pretending-not-to-know-it deadpan. Did not work for me in the rock context.
He played a song called “Scythian Empires,” which made me wonder why it’s so popular to write songs about ancient civilizations. Off the top of my head:
- “Scythian Empires”
- They Might Be Giants, “The Mesopotamians”
- Mountain Goats, “The Anglo-Saxons”
The last of these wins by the virtue of the couplet
They used to paint their bodies blue
Some of them might be distantly related to you!