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SXSW 2019: A Evening of Mysticism with Andrew Bird

Expert whistler and indie rock multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird headlined SXSW’s Free Outdoor Stage at Auditorium Shores on Saturday, March 16 alongside renowned folk artist Patty Griffin. With SXSW winding down, I was looking forward to what I imagined would be a chill night on the edges of Austin’s beautiful Lady Bird Lake. What I got was so much more than I anticipated.

Photo by Leigh Kettle

Upon arriving I was surprised to see the venue wasn’t as packed as I thought it would be, but I was into it – after ten days of SXSW-ing the crowds were getting to me. Being a fan of Andrew Bird since my early college days, I was beyond excited to see him perform for the first time despite the fact it was an outdoor venue. Years ago, I was scheduled to see him at a small concert hall in NYC but unfortunately had to sell my ticket at the last minute (I was devastated). When hearing he’d be performing at Auditorium Shores, I was worried the outdoor setting wouldn’t feel as intimate as I typically prefer (and more fitting for Andrew’s type of music), but I can say with confidence it was the most intimate performance I’ve seen outdoors to this date.

Photo by Leigh Kettle

Within the first five minutes of arriving my friend took a call from some buddies that were there at the event as well. After hanging up, she turned to us with a little dance and said, “Y’all, we can go BACKSTAGE!” I smiled with a nonchalant “Woah, sweeeeet!” but internally I was screaming like a 90’s tween being told she could go backstage for a Backstreet Boys concert (yeah, I’m team BSB, don’t @ me NSYNC fans).

This was my first experience ever being backstage at a concert, and I have to admit – it’s like a freaking adult playground. Free drinks, free food, and immediate access to the stage. I could barely control my giddy-ness the whole evening.

Photo by Leigh Kettle

Andrew arrived on stage and I immediately jetted to the front. The intro whistles of one of his newer songs “Sisyphus” rang through the air and my heart melted. I’d been waiting years for this. Though it was a short set, Andrew captivated the audience with his witty lyrics and romantic plucks on his violin. To me, listening to Andrew Bird is equivalent to meditation: shadowy yet comforting, mythical yet homey. Completely mesmerized, my brain took a moment to process what I’d witnessed once his set concluded. It was the perfect way to exit a beautiful ten days of SXSW.

Songs in the setlist include the following (those bold with links are my personal favorites):

For more coverage on SXSW, click here, and be sure to check back in for more interviews, recaps, and photo galleries!

Featured image & photo gallery credit: Leigh Kettle/Shuffle Online

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