Andrew Bird, Le Loup
Wednesday, Sept. 19
“I almost popped my collar … that could have been devastating!” cried Le Loup’s Sam Simkoff as he traded his banjo for a mini keyboard at Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley Theatre Wednesday night. Hailing from Washington, D.C., the seven-piece band packed plenty of punch to headline for Andrew Bird. Although their first CD was only released last week, these guys sound experienced beyond their years.
By using such varied instruments as the French horn, organ, hand claps and a tambourine, Le Loup’s sound swelled with the depth of a symphonic orchestra. The band’s multitalented members echoed the versatility of Indy’s Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s, but with an extra kick of quirkiness. Their music was dark, youthful and energetic, but most importantly, the band is passionate; every ounce of their energy was put into this show, and the audience rewarded them with a standing ovation at the end.
When Andrew Bird was interviewed about his newest album, “Armchair Apocrypha,” he explained that he wanted the listener to feel as if they were sitting in a warm living room while listening to the CD. This same mentality was attributed to his set; with large gramophones, vintage stereo equipment and a sock monkey to boot, the stage mimicked a little boy’s play area.
Although the scenery was innocent, Bird’s music was the antithesis of child-like. Standing alone on the stage, he created more depth and power than most full bands can accomplish. With a guitar slung around his shoulder, a violin in one hand, a xylophone mallet in the other and one foot on a pedal, he created deliberate symphonies one layer at a time.
Bird’s sweeping hand gestures and concentrated facial expressions lent to the passionate overtures, which were sometimes accompanied by abstract videos by Britta Johnson. All of Bird’s songs sounded different live; by employing skilled improvisation, he created ambient landscapes where non-animals, mitosis and unconventional musical instruments were common themes. His precision, skill and musical understanding gave me chills the entire night.