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Add to the list of things that make this mortal body worth the pain

By Heather B. Armstrong

A few weeks ago my husband and I attended a live show for the first time in several months, that of singer/songwriter Andrew Bird whose performance nearly knocked us out of our shoes, our shoes that were bought on sale because we spent the rest of our money on a babysitter. And drinks at the bar that cost so much you would have thought we were buying a distillery. Now that we are parents the amount of work that goes into planning and saving up for a night out is so prohibitively complicated that sometimes I would rather stay home and yank my pinky finger out with a set of salad tongs.
I’m not sure what we expected Andrew to sound like live — we really didn’t care, as long as he produced sound we would be satisfied because we had made it out of the house and had to enjoy ourselves on principle alone. I had bought a couple of his CDs online, and they were a solid series of really great folk songs with an array of sound from violins and guitars. I anticipated a quiet evening, a show we would nod our heads along to, one that would demand polite, delicate clapping. And then we would go home and pay the babysitter so much money that she could buy that Porsche she always wanted.
The show began when Dosh, a drummer/keyboardist, took the stage and said that he’d be playing a bit before Andrew took the stage. I totally rolled my eyes, as did my husband, because this guy looked like a punk, like he took his drumming way too seriously. Within thirty seconds, though, we felt like the most judgmental idiots alive, because he was creating some of the most incredible, most profound music we had ever heard at a live show, loops and blips and fantastic labyrinthine rhythms. Before we could wrap our heads around the sound Andrew had taken the stage and had seamlessly started whistling and playing the violin to Dosh’s beats. And then Dosh sampled Andrew’s violin as he played it, looped it back, and the entire building shook as if 40 different musicians had taken the stage and were beating each other with their instruments.
The sound was indescribable, confounding. We stood there with our mouths open, unable to figure out how two humans could make that kind of noise, simultaneously wicked and angelic. Andrew’s voice was like no sound I have ever heard, haunting and piercing, and not once did he waver off key. The music somewhat resembled what I had heard at home on the CD, like a child might remind you of her mother, but it stunned me that they sounded like this, like they were the only people who should ever be allowed to play the drums and the violin, because after this performance anyone else would be a fraud. That show was undoubtedly the best babysitting money we have ever spent, which is the best review a parent has to offer.

Heather B. Armstrong
About the Author

Heather B. Armstrong

Heather B. Armstrong was a regular contributor writing about pop culture for us at Dooce Plugs In. You can read her daily at her blog Dooce.


Heather B. Armstrong was a regular contributor writing about pop culture for us at Dooce Plugs In. You can read her daily at her blog Dooce.

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