Home Live Review Live Review: Humbird @ Pearl Street Warehouse — 4/17/24

Live Review: Humbird @ Pearl Street Warehouse — 4/17/24

Live Review: Humbird @ Pearl Street Warehouse — 4/17/24
Humbird performs at Pearl Street Warehouse on April 17, 2024. (Photo by James Todd Miller)

When I saw Humbird open for Margo Cilker last October at DC9, it was just Siri Undlin — the singer-songwriter at the heart of the band — playing solo acoustic. When she recently played the Pearl Street Warehouse, she brought her band for a show that was electric, both in its instrumentation and quality. There were still some gentle, quieter moments in the set, but I was impressed with how hard they rocked.

“Cornfields and Roadkill,” Siri said at Pearl Street Warehouse on April 17, is “a song about where we’re from.”

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota (my dad’s hometown, St. Louis Park, to be precise), Undlin grew singing in the Lutheran church where her mother was a pastor and in traditional Irish ensembles. After attending art school, she conducted musical and folklore research in the islands of Ireland and Scandinavia as a Watson fellow. The Minnesota connection came up again with “North Country Girl,” which Siri described as a response to “Girl From The North Country” by another Minnesotan, Bob Dylan. She prefaced that song by saying, “Songs are a pretty magical way to travel,” and that this one takes us north to a blizzard.

Watch Humbird perform “North Country Girl” live for Salon Sonics on YouTube:

Recently, Humbird released their third album, Right On. Siri told the audience the album “sat in my Google Drive for three years.” She wrote the title track “when I realized I was extremely wrong about something.” After playing the song, she told the audience, “Nate and I accidentally walked like nine miles today,” and mentioned seeing “Joe” (Biden, presumably) land in his helicopter.  They played many of the tracks from the album: the folklore-influenced “Seven Veils,” the harrowing “Child of Violence,” “Quickest Way,” and “Blueberry Bog,” finishing the set with “Song for the Seeds.”

“When I don’t know what else to do,” Undlin said, “I go look at the plants.” Earlier in the day, she and her band had made a trip out to Roosevelt Island. She dedicated the song to the cause of peace and justice for Gaza.

Undlin’s stage banter was entertaining and humorous, like the bit about the donkeys named Pearl, Earl, and Merle (I want to write a story about a family where the kids are named Larry, Harry, Jerry, Gary, Barry, Terry, and Mary). Introducing “Lincoln, Nebraska,” in her encore, she said, “I love museums. I’ll stand there and read every plaque.” (Me too, sister, me too.)

The set opened with the title track of their first album, “Pharmakon.” After “Cornfields,” they played “Plum Sky.” The lone cover of the evening was “I Am Stretched On Your Grave,” a very old song — more than 1,000 years old — that Siri learned from Sinead O’Connor.  The set also included “May.”

Before Humbird took the stage at Pearl Street Warehouse, Fredericksburg duo Green Bean played a 45-minute opening set. After starting with a Widespread Panic tune, they played their own stuff, including a song called “Broken Mirror.” It was noted that many of the songs might have been inspired by the singer’s relationship with his ex-wife.

I was impressed when I saw Humbird back in October, and I was even more impressed this time around. They’re definitely worth coming out to see, and they’ll be back in the area on June 21, opening for Brent Cobb at the Union Stage.

Here are some photos of Green Bean opening Humbird at Pearl Street Warehouse on April 17, 2024. (Keep scrolling for Humbird!) All pictures copyright and courtesy of James Todd Miller.

Here are some photos of Humbird headlining Pearl Street Warehouse on April 17, 2024. All pictures copyright and courtesy of James Todd Miller.



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