Concert Review: Andrew Bird, Basia Bulat, July 19, Echo Beach

In what had to be one of the loveliest shows Toronto will see this summer, Basia Bulat and Andrew Bird melted hearts in their respective sets on a day when Torontonians were, for once, not melting from heat. Even though there’d be rain while we’d be on a pseudo-beach at the waterfront, and armed with umbrellas and the like, it was as if these musicians warded off the storm as we watched a pink sunset and were treated to a nice breeze.

Now, if you haven’t been to Echo Beach, let me tell you a bit about it. It’s actually kind of nice, but it’s also kind of weird. Things that were nice: the stage and set-up for people to stand, having food vendors there (if Big Fat Burrito is anywhere, I’m happy) and being by the water. Things that were weird: having to walk all the way around Exhibition to get there because of a dumb gate that must have been from the car races a few weeks ago, being quite a ways away to begin with, port-a-potties and the whole big pit of sand in the middle of concrete and a tiny hill thing. Overall though, I was way more pleased with seeing a show there than I ever thought I would be, but maybe that’s because the music had me in such a content mood.

Basia Bulat took the stage saying it was her first hometown show in a year. The five musicians effortlessly glided through the entire set, appearing calm and collected but also quite giddy. Basia mentioned a few times how happy she was to open for Andrew Bird, one of her favourite musicians, and how happy she was to be there. They warmly pursued through their two albums worth of bubbly folk material and likely made a lot of new fans. Here’s hoping Bulat and crew pop up more often in the near future, as their presence really does a lot to Toronto, making things feel softer, generous and sunny.

Armed with fantastical twirly wooden spirals dangling from the ceiling of the stage, a large rotary speaker that gave the violin a wonderful woosh and even a sock monkey, Andrew Bird and his band had a friendly and whimsical presence in the night. Bird is the people’s people with his dark and quirky lyrics, crooked smile, cool demeanor and loving tunes. He seems to embody a number of voices in the way he writes his music, and for all these reasons, I think it’s easy for people to identify with him. It seemed, at least from where I was standing, everyone was eating up almost everything he did and watched with adoration.

Bird has an impressive catalog and included tunes from all alongside his most recent album, Break it Yourself, although I sorely missed tracks such as “Imitosis.” He even announced they’re halfway done working on an “old time” record, and played a song called “Railroad Bill,” which was the only time people seemed quite quizzical about him (and by god, so many off-beat claps). Bird seemed thankful to be in Toronto, saying “things are looking up” frequently, despite revealing he had his bike stolen underneath his hotel’s awning in the morning. The quartet played for almost two hours, even covering Townes Van Zandt. Andrew Bird fits quiet and loud moments perfectly in pieces, flirts with the darkest ideas and all in all gives off a genuine appearance, and for that, his music is beautiful and his live show even grounding. This show was even better than I expected, as one who is not usually a fan of outdoor shows especially for bands I would assume would be even nicer indoors, but everything seemed to come together right last night. Andrew Bird doesn’t come around often, which is probably another factor as to why everything felt so much more important, as he’s quite the treasure.

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Posted on by jessica in Concerts

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