Au Revoir Simone's 'Bird of Music' Takes Flight

WRITTEN BY
Travis Greenwood

"We're so excited to be here," proclaimed Annie Hart, vocalist and keyboardist for the Brooklyn-based pop rockers Au Revoir Simone, early in her group's set at Holocene last evening (Aug. 23), Portland's premiere nightclub for all things indie and electro. The audience, an enthusiastic and stylish mix of music nerds and sweater-clad coolies, immediately returned the affection with a sustained roar of drunken and not-so-drunken approval. Some of the fellas in the crowd were clearly smitten, too.

Blending gentle stage banter ("Has anyone here had an out of body experience?") with sweet, cooing vocals and multi-layered synth parts, while also echoing the hushed, atmospheric textures of Stereolab and Madder Rose, the trio performed an excellent hour-long set that was composed largely of tracks culled from the group's most recent long-player, 2007's The Bird of Music.

Providing support for the gals on their headlining U.S. trek, Austin's Oh No! Oh My! wove a deceptively catchy web of plaintive indie rock that is clearly influenced by some of the genre's leading practitioners: The Shins, Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, even Modest Mouse to a degree. The band's 40-minute performance was highlighted by impassioned versions of "Oh Be One" and "A Pirate's Anthem," two of the finer tracks from the quartet's latest offering, Between the Devil and the Sea. While they might come off as a tad winsome sometimes, Oh No! Oh My! churned out a rougher, less polished set when delivering the goods live. That alone warrants cheers of "Oh My!"

We asked: Birds have long provided musicians with the inspiration for band names and song titles. Au Revoir Simone tapped into this creative spirit earlier in 2007 with the release of their debut album, The Bird of Music. What's up with this winged fixation? Also, which bird-centric acts, past or present, soar highest in your eyes?

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