Touring is the lifeblood of most musicians, but it makes Andrew Bird sick. Literally. He’s a classic addict: he plays more than 200 shows a year, no matter how it makes him feel or look, because he has to have the drug of live performance.
ANDREW BIRD: FEVER YEAR tracks the frail, folksy, borderline genius indie popster’s road life during his 2009 Noble Beast trek, interspersed with pristine footage from a show at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee and his creative sanctuary at his family’s midwestern farm—a place he both loves and hates because it means he’s not touring. As one of American music’s enduring enigmas, this glimpse into Bird’s life and process—his unique onstage track-looping technique is documented for the first time, for instance—is a boon to fans. But the film proves to be as much a document of the dedication and philosophy of modern independent musicianship in general, seen via one of the genre’s most quirky, unassuming and intelligent innovators.
With a rich visual style as majestic and poetic as Bird’s music, Xan Aranda brings the man’s difficult evolution to life in FEVER YEAR, which ends with a duet by Bird and St. Vincent (nee ex-Dallas musician Annie Clark), then a heel injury that would have sidelined a less-committed—or addicted—man. (Yes, the show went on).
Xan Aranda is a freelance director, producer, and curator. She produced the award-winning 2008 film MILKING THE RHINO and founded the Chicago Short Film Brigade in 2003. ANDREW BIRD: FEVER YEAR, her directorial debut, had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in October 2011. Her next film, MORMONS MAKE MOVIES, is inspired by her mother.