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Arts and Entertainment

Andrew Bird Takes His Violin (And Glockenspiel) To Los Angeles

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When Andrew Bird gets on stage, you can very well expect that he will be playing a violin, guitar, and a glockenspiel, while a two-headed Victrola horn is spinning in the background. Oh, and he's a master whistler too.

The 40-year-old multi-instrumentalist is a veteran musician; after all, he first picked up the violin when he was four, being trained in the Suzuki method, and hasn't stopped playing since. He seamlessly weaves together indie pop, folk, blues and jazz, and does a one-man-show at times on stage, tapping a bunch of pedals, and recording and looping his sounds.

The Chicago implant recently moved to Los Angeles and is taking his Gezelligheid shows on the road to the West Coast for the first time. His annual winter holiday shows (which the Dutch word "Gezelligheid" translates to the meaning of cozy or quaint) have been a staple on the East Coast. It's an violin-centered performance amplified by his enormous Victrola horns, and will take place in the intimate setting of a local church.

"The whole Gezelligheid concept started in Chicago as a way to get through the dark, cold days," Bird told LAist.

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Although he is well aware that Angelenos aren't exactly having a cold and frigid winter, he believes adversity can be found anywhere. Bird left Chicago for warmer weather and to be able to ride his bike year-round. Also, he didn't want to be sick all the time. His documentary Fever Year, made the festival circuit rounds in 2011, and basically captured his year of shivering and being ill in the bitter cold.

I Want to See Pulaski at Night is his latest EP that was released in November, and served as a farewell letter to Chicago. The title track is sandwiched in between instrumental tracks, and was recorded in a studio in New York in six hours. It's a vast difference from his last two more pop-heavy LPs, Break it Yourself and Hands of Glory that he recorded in a barn in Illinois.

Pulaski is a street that runs on the whole west side of Chicago, and he points out is not a beautiful-looking street unless you're "really into urban decay," he said. One night when he was out with a friend, a Thai student told him, "I want to see Pulaski at night," which was just the opposite of what most people would want to do. What started off as a joke to him developed into a wistful look at his youth there.

Locations play a major part in Bird's performances as he has an interest in playing in non-traditional venues. Just in October, he performed at The Quietest Show on Earth in support of raising money for national parks. He did a three-mile hike in Joshua Tree with ten contest winners from all over the country, and then played in the desert. Although it was a good experience, he did, however, find it difficult to play instruments when the temperature dropped to 35 degrees when the sun set.

In addition, he's performed in caves, an old bank vault, and even at the Guggenheim. "It makes you think of post-apocalyptic scenarios," Bird said. "People gathering in our shells of our former society."

Here's a video of Bird at one of his Gezelligheid shows:

Andrew Bird will be performing at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church on 12/19 and 12/20 at 3300 Wilshire Blvd. in Koreatown. Tickets can be purchased here.

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