Sunday, September 24, 2006

Oh I am not quite sleeping

Because we have class on Tuesday, when Sufjan Stevens will be playing in Chicago, and because the Chicago show sold out immediately, Jill, Kathleen, and I decided to take a road trip to Indianapolis to see the concert. It is a 3.5 hour trip each way, and it was well worth the time.

The show was at the historic Murat Shrine Theatre, in the Egyptian Room. The Egyptian Room is more like a ballroom than a theater. With its low ceiling and Egyptian decor, the room looked like a very fancy convention hall. And we got seats right in the center of the third row, so we were only about 8 feet from the stage.

After the good opening act My Brightest Diamond, Sufjan and his band took the stage at 9:00 pm. With beautiful abstract shapes and colors projected on the screen, a large troupe of musicians wearing butterfly wings and feathered masquerade masks took the stage. They played a glorious five minute instrumental opener, with melodic trumpets and strings, and then Sufjan came on stage wearing giant bird wings. He sat at the piano and started in with "Sister."

(Pretend the blur is for effect.)

He then introduced himself as The Majesty Snowbird and his backing band as the Chinese Butterfly Brigade.

Throughout the show I was very impressed with the immense musical talent of the backing band, especially the brass section. But watching Sufjan in action was absolutely amazing. He bounced from guitar to piano to bells, and his voice was wonderful, full of passion and heartache. He also joked around a lot, introducing all of the songs with little anecdotes.


The setlist drew from most of his albums. I was surpised how much Seven Swans was represented, and very surpised how little of The Avalanche was played. But the rhythm of the show was perfect, reaching crescendos of great heights before quieting down for the quieter numbers, only to rev right back up again.


One highlight of the show was a new song, which Sufjan called the theme song of the tour, the "Majesty Snowbird." The song was big, complicated, and ambitious. I was most looking forward to "Casimir Pulaski Day," since that song makes me well up with emotion, and so I was very glad when this one came on. "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." was beautifully stark. Then when he introduced "Seven Swans," he basically told us that the song is about a true childhood event involving the sun shining through the smoke as his whole yard burned. And the version of "Chicago" was a kind of drum-heavy piece of sublime joy.

But the real highlight of the show was "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!" I have always loved this song, but the live performance contained so much emotion, so much beauty, and so much joy/sadness, that I began tearing up during the performance. (Yes, I am little girl.) The emotional power of the song was augmented by the projection of images, from butterflies to little kids playing with kites. It loses something in the description, but the performance was truly transcendent.

So here is the set list:
Sister
The Transfiguration
The Lord God Bird
Dear Mr. Supercomputer
Jacksonville
(A Short Reprise For Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But For Very Good Reasons)
Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head
The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!
John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Majesty Snowbird
Casimir Pulaski Day
Seven Swans
Chicago
___________

To Be Alone With You
The Dress Looks Nice on You

The Sufjan show was an awesome and, at times, moving experience. It was majestic and grandiose, intimate and gorgeous. I felt connected to the music in a new way.

(He told us that he had stolen the rooster from Perkins the night before.)

8 Comments:

At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous posited...

Hey, this is Pat from the Sufjan boards. Feel free to post any videos or pictures of mine. Nice review!

 
At 7:08 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

Thanks, Pat.

Max, FYI - I posted an answer to your question on my previous post.

 
At 8:42 PM, Blogger Houley posited...

I really like the effect of the blur on that picture. It adds a whole new deeper meaning.

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

Thanks. I'm very artistic.

 
At 4:45 PM, Anonymous max posited...

Oh my little pencil
How yellow you are.

 
At 5:15 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

My darling pencil.

 
At 9:54 PM, Anonymous max posited...

Sorry.

What was the title again?

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

Potpourri.

 

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