Bowl of Fire, Live at the New Brookland Tavern, West Columbia, SC 3/29/99

Review by Sam S.

I first heard Andrew Bird and the Bowl of Fire on my local university
radio station and fell in love with it instantly. They played the first
three tracks and I literally had to pull my car over into a parking lot the
emotional pull was so powerful. I called up the radio station and asked who
it was, wrote the name down and within a couple of hours had found and
purchased the album in a little music store. I raved about it to anyone
who'd listen, gave copies of the album out as gifts and scanned the concert
sheets to see if he'd perform any near my little home town. Imagine my
shock and joy to find that he'd be performing a mere two and a half hours
away from me. I called a crony and arranged a road trip. A week later I
discovered that he'd be performing in the next county (even more shocking
for me) and I entertained the notion of becoming a Birdhead (that is to
say, someone who would follow his band on his tour). That plan fell through
for the reasons I shall put down later. 
	He was scheduled to begin performing at 10.30, I believe and I arrived
with some friends at around 9.45 to ensure my acquistion of good seats. I
shouldn't have been so worried. No one else showed up until a few minutes
before the band began to play. It was, however, easier this way to get the
attention of young Andrew Bird walking by. I called him over and introduced
myself. I then, dear reader, proceeded to gush. To be honest, I don't
remember much of what I said other than how he was one of the three living
musicians who have changed my life. I also asked him about his influences
and was thrilled to hear him mention some artists with whom I was familiar.
Then, saying that he had some things to set up, Mr Bird left quickly. He
was very polite, rather quiet and I'm ashamed to say that I probably
frightened him with my placing him on a pedestal. I should have known
better than to do that. My friend swears I once used the word "adore" as I
talked to Bird. I don't remember having done so. 
	 On stage Bird's seeming shyness evaporated and he became a rather
charming showman with a velvet voice his recordings only approximated. The
show was fantastic. The band looked like a little group of college kids
just having a hell of a fun time up on stage. I was impressed with the
obvious chemistry between the members. At one point Bird broke a string on
his violin and he handled the accident with aplomb. A local drunkard took
it upon himself to accompany the band with his own inebriated dance numbers
and vocal stylings, but even this was taken in stride. The venue was
extremely small and the sound, probably as a result, seemed wonderfully
big. He did a few songs from "Thrills" and several from his new album "Oh!
The Grandeur" (a copy of which I somehow managed to find in a local used
record store some weeks before its scheduled release-- it's fantastic,
might I add). The show lasted about an hour and they declined an encore due
to their claim that their instruments were not up to par and needed
attention. I was first in line at the little table they had set up with
posters and albums in the hopes that Bird might be there to sign my copy of
"Thrills", a request which I ought to have made when I met him. He,
however, did not show up. Perhaps because my enthusiasm scared him, I don't
know. Instead, I got to meet bassist Josh Hirsch, an amiable fellow who
mentioned my necktie. 
	I wanted to go to the next city on his stop, but at the suggestion of my
girlfriend (who has since formed something of a crush on the good-looking
Andrew Bird) I did not. She thought it might be a little distracting for
him to see the "freak" from the last city again some two hundred miles
away. I'm sure if he saw me again outside of that New Brookland Tavern
mileu he'd think "Oh no. I'm John Lennon." and take off running. It is also
for this reason that I decided not to attend his release party in Chicago
on the eleventh of September. I should have been more low-key when I met him. 
	Anyway, that's how it happened and if he comes again (he said that he
would, but that may have just been out of politeness) I'll be sure to see
him again. That band puts on a hell of show.

Back to the B.O.F Live main page!