Heralded songwriter Bird to perform at Hop

by Laura Sim | 7/7/14 4:00pm

Bringing his signature arrangement of curiously synthesized plucks, loops and whistles to Hanover, Andrew Bird and the Hands of Glory will perform at Spaulding Auditorium on Thursday. Joined by Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition, the two artists will appear within the Hopkins Center’s summer music series.

On the heels of a performance at the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee, Bird will bring a festival-like atmosphere to Hanover and mesh well with a series that attempts to draw seasonal music to the Upper Valley, Hopkins Center publicity coordinator Rebecca Bailey said.

“His songs bring a sound that is both old and new,” she said. “There’s something that will capture your ear about his music. He’s bringing a great band, and they have a wonderful sound. It’s a sound that is live — everyone is singing around a single mike, not processed.”

The summer’s first musical performance featured the sounds of Ricardo Lemvo and his band Makina Loca, who played in Spaulding in late June. Bird, who will perform on the Central Park SummerStage on July 8 before heading to Hanover, declined to comment on his upcoming performance, as did his agent.

Combining musical sounds with skilled experience as a singer-songwriter, Bird’s performance will be a rare opportunity for students to see a one-of-a-kind artist in concert, Bailey said, noting that Bird has played the violin since the age of four.

“He’s put in so many hours as a performer for all sorts and sizes of audiences,” she said. “He totally knows how to get into a wonderful groove with whoever he’s on stage with.”

Ten of 15 students interviewed said that they were familiar with Bird’s music, and just under half of the students interviewed said they looked forward to hearing Bird on campus. Several noted that they had already purchased tickets.

Ziyuan Liu ’16, who said he was familiar with the artist, noted that Bird’s music fails to be categorized into a single genre or appeal to a single audience.

“For someone who is not familiar with his work, I would describe him as a combination of alternative soft-rock, mainstream folk and a dash of modern psychedelia,” he said.

Tiantian Zhang ’16, who has also heard Bird’s music before, said that the artist can tap into a wide spectrum of human emotion and noted his “diverse collection of songs.”

“I feel like I’m taken through an adventure in every song because they all have different hues, which is pretty impressive and speaks to his ability to hit a spectrum of human emotion,” Zhang said. “Though he’s been around for a while, his music today is still as full of depth and sophistication as his older albums.”

Critics have struggled to define Bird’s sound. In their reviews, Pitchfork has called his music “not-quite-definable,”and Rolling Stone has praised him as “beguiling” while hailing his emotional urgency. Bird’s last album, titled “Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…,” was released in June and combines Bird’s witty lyricism with his signature library of curious musical sounds.

Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition will open for Bird on Thursday. A child of musicians, Mathus began his musical career as the mandolin player in a family band at the age of 8. He blends rock and roll, blues and rhythm and blues to create a distinctly southern sound that has been praised by critics from Seattle to Arkansas. Mathus’s newest album, “Dark Night of the Soul,” was released in February.

Bird and Mathus will perform together in Bridgeport, Connecticut on July 11 and Lowell, Massachusetts on July 12 following their joint Spaulding show.