Friday Night: Andrew Bird at House of Blues

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Not terribly long after, though, they came up front for an acoustic mini-set of songs from Hands of Glory, his soon-to-be released companion to Break It Yourself, including bluegrass shuffle "Railroad Bill," the bluesier "When That Helicopter Comes" and "Three White Horses," which confirmed that his songs contain a lot of darkness even when they're on the cheerful side.

But not always. Bird even allowed him to rip off a power chord or two before closing the main set with the tempestuous mini-symphony "Tables and Chairs." He had won me over even before playing one of the better covers of Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You" I've heard in the encore. Things may have settled down a little by then, but they never quite rested.

Personal Bias: As I mentioned, about as little as humanly possible. However, a dear friend of mine happens to be Bird's tour manager, so I saw an opening to educate myself a little and took it.

The Crowd: Possibly whiter than the Shins last Wednesday. It wouldn't take much for them to fit into HOB's Bronze Peacock Room, but at least they were paying attention.

Overheard In the Crowd: Someone actually yelled "play some Skynyrd!" At this show.

Random Notebook Dump: I enjoy using words like "ostinato" and "pizzicato," which means producing sound from a stringed instrument by plucking the strings rather than using a bow. It does not happen that often.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray