Friday, October 29, 2010

sufjan stevens on my mind

went to see sufjan stevens at the orpheum last night.


i was really looking forward to it to begin with, but he overwhelmed my expectations. in a few words, i would describe the experience as beautiful, disturbing, complex, intense.

he mostly played from his recently released album, 'the age of adz' (pronounced odz), which Punelson magazine describes as '...frustrating... impossible to play in the background... but fascinating, intriguing and – once you get over your first, bewildering listen – actually very enjoyable.' i agree. i didn't love the album the first time i listened to it, but after a couple times through it, i couldn't stop the melodies from lingering in my head all day.

but as much as i love age of adz now, listening to it on my laptop is dull compared to the live performance. when sufjan talked about his new album, he talked about exploring emotions, and the psychological. the album suddenly made more sense to me, and i connected with it.

it was not a relax-and-fall-asleep-in-your-seat kind of concert. he kept me on the edge of my seat. he was on stage with an ensemble of 11 people. himself & his many instruments were joined by 2 guitarists, 2 drummers, 2 trombones, 2 backup singers/dancers, 2 pianists. the orchestration was amazing. the songs were intense, well-timed, and thought-provoking. songs about love, songs about volcanoes erupting, songs about schizophrenics, songs about the apocalypse. there's a theme of 'whining and consternation,' sufjan noted.

(not sure how to credit this photo. i found it on

as a performer, sufjan stevens is charming. a little shy & quirky, he nevertheless portrayed a confidence in himself and his music. it doesn't hurt that he's an attractive one, either. oh, and he can dance.

he told us that we had the most spirit he's seen, or something like that. i didn't believe him. he must be at the start of his tour if he thinks that. or he was just saying that to make us love him more. maybe he was talking to the front row of people, because those of us in the balconies i would not describe as 'spirited.' when he was at the end of the 20 minute long song 'impossible soul,' he was dancing on stage with the backup singers, and was singing 'do you wanna dance?' i mean, comon, if that's not an invitation for the audience to get our butts out of our seats and jump around a bit... i don't know what is. but no one moved. and i'm way too canadian to jump up and dance all by myself. oh well.

you can find another review of the concert here, if you're interested.

here's a clip from last night, when he played his (probably most famous) song, chicago:

to sum it up: sufjan and his concert have been on my mind all day. i can't wait to go to another concert of his. no, he didn't play one of my favorite songs, but i can forgive him. if i have to. i guess.

(obligatory food-related photo, since this is a food blog, not an i'm-obsessed-with-sufjan-stevens blog. also this is post #98. one more post before my contest closes!)


ty said...

Great review Joey! I would have loved to have been at that show. I was tempted to drive to his show in Minneapolis but a five hour drive both ways in one day changed my mind.

I agree with your assessment of the album. definitly one you need to listen to twice before you fall in love--and I am sure a live performance would only make me love it that much more.

I was REALLY disapointed that he felt the need to drop the F bomb for a minute straight (and on one of the most catchy songs too!). I had just introduced Sufjan-this great Christian indie artist with beautiful, worshipful themes-to a couple guys in my youth group before Age of Adz came out. Oh Suf...sigh. to bad.

Other then that, one of my favs of the year so far.

ty said...

oh, and I forgot to ask, mind if we post a link to your concert review at our music blog?

joey armstrong said...

yeah, feel free to post it at mp3po!