Films: Andrew Bird: Fever Year

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Andrew Bird: Fever Year

Andrew Bird: Fever Year

USA, 2011, 80 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Documentary, Music
Program: Documentary Films
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Xan Aranda
Producer: Andrea Troolin (exec), Xan Aranda
Editor: Liz Kaar
Cinematographer: Peter Gilbert
Principal Cast: Andrew Bird, Martin Dosh, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Jeremy Ylvisaker, Michael Lewis

The Chicago-based composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird is, in the words of a New York Timescritic, “his own kind of musical geek.” A classically trained violinist who also plays the guitar and the glockenspiel—and who whistles operatically—Bird combines elements of blues and calypso, electronica, country, and classic jazz into an unclassifiable mix that some hear as a new sort of brainy “folk rock,” complete with highly intellectual lyrics. His recent CDs Noble Beast and Armchair Apocrypha are almost universally praised, not least for their complex looping techniques.

Documentarian Xan Aranda, who had made a couple of earlier short films with Bird, caught up with the tireless, then 36-year-old prodigy in October 2009, at the end of a 165-night concert tour that had finally come to rest at Milwaukee's Pabst Theater. Aranda calls this concert film “a snapshot of a time during which Bird became perfectly adapted to the music hall.” It covers 10 songs—some solo efforts, others in collaboration with drummer Martin Dosh, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker, and bassist Michael Lewis—that reveal Bird at the height of his powers.

The musician tells the filmmaker that he has been running a fever for an entire year (thus the title) but that he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. In the past decade, he's released 20 albums and averaged more than 150 concert dates per year. “Nimble polyphony,” another critic said of his work—“assured, self-conscious, precise and forlorn.” And then there’s the verdict from Newsweek: “Just the right parts of darkness and light.”

Watch the music video for Andrew Bird's song "Imitosis":

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