Friday, January 30, 2009

Big Shoulders Ball 2009: Andrew Bird, Freakwater, Tortoise, and more

The night before the inauguration, the Black Cat hosted the Big Shoulders Ball. 
It was an homage to Obama, featuring Chicago favs Tortoise and Andrew Bird along with other midwesterners and Chicagoans: Ted Leo, the Waco Brothers, Freakwater, and more. There was also a tribute to Sun Ra by Ken Vandermark. 

We showed up early because Freakwater was one of the first acts, and I absolutely love Catherine Ann Irwin. Her album Cut Yourself a Switch is amazing, lyrically and musically. Her song "Hex" is often covered by another brilliant songstress, Nico Case (I was brought to tears watching her sing this song at Webster Hall in '06). 

My companion was my cousin, who is more than a couple of years younger than I. I forgot to warn her that the scene would be a bit more aged than she was used to. That, and a bit more anglo. It was an Elvis Costello-type crowd, and yes, I fit in. 

Freakwater was amazing. Below you can watch them perform Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" in honor of our new president. I ran into Catherine Irwin in the bathroom, both washing our hands at the same time, and I told her how much I love her album (this time I was the huge star-struck fan). We talked for a bit about their rendition of Stevie's song, and she said it was difficult to perform. I tried to reassure her that it looked effortless and that it was a wonderful tribute to our president. 

To all of our delight, at one point Andrew Bird, Sally Timms, and Eleventh Dream Day joined Tortoise on stage for a really powerful musical moment (didn't get a video, sorry). 

Andrew Bird sang, played guitar and violin, sounding a bit Jeff Buckley-esque, barefoot. In a Pitchfork interview, he says he finds this comparison a bit irritating, so my only hope is that Andrew Bird will read this become extremely offended and then start cyberstalking me. Please do, Andrew! What a cutie, my little cousin also fell in love. 

It was really a unique show and I would do it all over again, even though the price tag was high ($50) and the drinks were not included. I was glad to have had a little windy city in my District. Enjoy the video. 

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