While up in Seattle for a weekend of baseball and family, I got to experience some world-class musicianship in a beautiful setting.
Apparently Zootunes at Woodland Park Zoo has been happening for 35 years now, and I am very late to the game. Although it was terribly smoky (like, seriously, all-time Seattle smoky) the sold-out crowd of roughly 2,000 didn’t mind too much, especially once the show got started promptly at 6:00.
Opener – Punch Brothers
Chris Thile and crew have made quite a name for themselves for their smart and modern take on string music. They tend to ride that fine line between contemporary folk rock and straight up classical music. Mr. Thile has been a known commodity for years as an uber-talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter due to his days with Nickel Creek as a wee lad. He rocked the mandolin for most of the evening, and he and bandmate Gabe on the violin were both truly remarkable. Admittedly my favorite Punch Brothers work tends to be their covers (especially Radiohead’s “Kid A”), but this was a perfect fit to open for Andrew Bird and his band.
Headliner – Andrew Bird
Mr. Bird is one of the greatest under-the-radar artists in America today, with a deep catalogue of songs that range from sad and brooding to groovy and even raucous. However, they all lean very heavily on Andrew’s abilities as a songwriter and his wide range of musicianship. During the set, he employed his trademark violin, some sneaky good guitar playing, dabbled on the keyboard, and belted out his eerily beautiful whistle. Yes, seriously, the man is possibly the best whistler we have today. Especially entertaining were the few songs were he would switch from violin to guitar mid-track.
He first addressed the crowd by telling us that “you guys look good, better than they said you would. Sorry, I don’t know what I am talking about.” OK, maybe he isn’t a master of crowd work, but he and his band can sure lay it down. We were also treated to the inevitable (and not at all disappointing) appearance of Chris Thile to play a few numbers with the band: “My Sister’s Tiny Hands”, a thought-provoking and sullen track from the excellent Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of album; “Give It Away”, and a cover of Madison Cunningham’s “Left Handed Kisses”. As Chris walked back off stage, Andrew said eloquently “that Chris Thile, he does such a good job at the music”. Well said, Andrew, and so do you.
Are You Serious?
Truth Lies Low
My Sister’s Tiny Hands (with Chris Thile)
Give It Away (with Chris Thile)
Left Handed Kisses (with Chris Thile)
Three White Horses
Pulaski at Night
Spotify playlist link:
My “Best of Andrew Bird” playlist link: