andrew bird at the fillmore, review and expectations’ bearing on concerts

andrew bird, #1
Andrew Bird, not last week, by ipickmynose

I’m not sure what to say about Andrew Bird (myspace) at the Fillmore on Friday. It was excellent, for sure. Bird is an amazingly talented musician and a good singer. His band played well. Their song choice was pretty heavy on the new tunes, which is understandable–that’s what they’re promoting, but could we have heard “Scythian Empires”, “Simple X”, “Fiery Crash”, “Sovay” or “A Nervous Tick Motion”. (Thankfully they did play “Plasticities” and “Fake Palindromes”.)

But the thing I’ve been thinking more about, perhaps, is the role of expectations in concerts. I really don’t think musical experience can be separated from context. Last time I saw Andrew Bird I went in with fairly low expectations and I was blown away. I was absolutely floored.

Friday’s show was good, but it didn’t hit me like the other one. I feel like I’m probably more inclined than the average person to divorce myself from a situation and try to look at it objectively, but for all that, I’m sure my expectations play into how I perceive a concert. So was Andrew Bird as good on Friday as last May? Who knows?

No one, probably.

5 responses to “andrew bird at the fillmore, review and expectations’ bearing on concerts”

  1. While we’re not much for Andrew Bird ourselves, it’s probably pretty universal that the first time one sees an artist live, it will always be the most amazing. It’s simply that new “shock” at discovering something that awesome, no?

  2. adrian says:

    Hmm. I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. Bands still do have off-nights and they can get better at performing. The best Mountain Goats show I’ve seen was the sixth or seventh show of theirs I saw.

    It’s also about expectations–if everyone’s said a band is great live, you might expect them to be awesome and they’ll disappoint. Later you might have a more realistic in expectations and have a better time.

  3. Stranger Jay says:

    I had the exact same reaction for both the first and second times seeing Bird. I think part of what makes Bird so amazing the first time is the novelty of the live looping and stage design (spinning victrolas and all).

    I’m a big fan, and I think he can hold a show on his songs and performance alone, but I think the novelty factor definitely makes for a much sharper drop off between first and second experiences.

    I missed him this round, so I can’t speak to this particular show.

  4. kata rokkar says:

    I think the performance gave new life to songs I knew I already liked from the new album. Not so much the older songs I’d already heard from Outside Lands. It wasn’t exactly a lukewarm experience, but I see where you’re going with this.
    I’d ask someone who was seeing him for (1. First time with high expectations and (2. someone seeing him for the first time with no expectations.
    You might not get the answer you’re looking for but it would be interesting to know what their thoughts were.

  5. Lizzy says:

    You know what I’ll say: there is no way to judge an experience as a singular, a-contextual event. Of course expectations play in to the experience. But you can still rate shows, just with the understanding that it is more than just the show. Much like the audience, the venue, the traffic on the way to the venue, the price of the ticket, what we had for lunch, and what the kid in front of us is wearing all affect how we experience a show, expectation affects how we experience a show. It is not just about the music, it is the entire experience, that is just the nature of the beast. You can’t remove the music from the environment. And you can’t remove expectation from the listener.

    Some artists have the ability to impress me in new and different ways despite expectations. For me, Bird is in that category. But for someone else, he may not be. It is my particular interest in his musicianship that makes him interesting to me, not necessarily the novelty factor. For me, what is good about Bird’s show is the depth — there continue to be new things for me to appreciate, even after having seen him a couple times.

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