Andrew Bird at The Rio

Andrew Bird returns to the bay area this weekend for two sold out shows at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz. It’s been 10 years since he played Santa Cruz, and he seemed blissfuly happy to be back.

Can’t remember the first song, it was something off of Useless Creatures. He then played “Why,” a fierce note to his college roommate. At the end of the song, Bird said that he’s played “Why” at every show for the past 10 years. He explained it’s a way for him to get everything out of his system and to stretch out.

“Natural Disaster,” and Imatosis, both off of Bird’s last album, Noble Beast, were played in an elongated improvised versions making them feel more like songs from Useless Creatures.

Bird treated us with refined versions of several new tracks that he’s recently been recording in LA. as well. “Lazy Projectors” is a song about selective memory. The chorus repeats, “Is it written in your marrow?” “Breeding Desperation” is a new song about the declining bee population. Before launching into the song, Bird giddily describes the video he’s been imagining for the song, where he acts as a beekeeper in a room full of his custom-designed speakers, and comedian Zach Galifianakis acts as the lead bee. “Breeding Desperation” is a great conceptual track. He restarted the new tunes, apologizing and explaining the initial loop was just a bit too fast. It’s got to be difficult to get all those loops just so.

“It is a bit disorienting at first as to where the sound is coming from, and is what you’re hearing at the moment really what I’m playing now or what I played 12 seconds ago …?” Bird confessed to in 2009. “I get confused, sure, but I can visualize the loop and its shape. It’s like a cloud that hangs between me and the audience and I can crawl between the notes and carve away a little E from the top while I add more G at the bottom.”

We also heard “Lucitania”, and “Dos Sceebe.” I’m sure I have the spelling on that last one wrong. There were also two Bob Dylan Covers. He closed with Weather Systems.

A beautiful chantress with Dylanesque curls and perfect diction opened for Bird and also accompanied him on a Dylan cover and on “Lucitania”

Andrew Bird Performs again tonight at The Rio. I’ll be there, shooting for Ice Cream Man and The Color Awesome.