Sufjan Stevens at Town Hall
Sufjan Stevens writes some of the prettiest, most immediately likable songs you'll ever hear. That they offer rich portraits of such unlikely subjects as a childhood fear of wasps, Superman, bone cancer, and one of this century's most notorious serial killers simply adds a deeper level to your listening satisfaction. That Stevens can perform a 90-minute set of these songs wearing giant bird wings, backed by a 14-piece band dressed as butterflies, and totally pull it off... well, that takes a special kind of genius.
I was fortunate enough to get tickets to his Friday night concert at Town Hall (and doubly fortunate to have DGlass as my date), and it was excellent. Among the highlights for us were Metropolis, John Wayne Gacy, Chicago, Jacksonville, Predatory Wasp and the two encores, Zombies and Casimir Pulaski Day. He also performed The Worst Christmas Ever (apparently Stevens is releasing a five-disc boxed set of Christmas music this November), as well as a truly rocking new composition, peppered with fuzzy guitars, the epic Majesty Snowbird.
Stevens put on a great show, complete with costumes (the previously mentioned wings and butterfly headgear, which you can barely see in my terrible picture up top, and better see in the shot above that I stole from someone who obviously had much better seats than me), a video backdrop that actually contributed to the song, charming patter and stories, plastic blow-up figures (Superman; Santa Clause) tossed into the crowd, a tight band of horns, strings, percussion, keyboards... and all this in front of a packed house of swooning fans. Definitely a love-fest, and definitely worth catching the next time he comes to town. My only regret is that I couldn't bring Bo and Co, as Stevens's brilliant Illinois CD has been in heavy rotation in our home for over a year now.
PS: I've always pronounced Stevens's first name phonetically (like: "Suff-gin") which I'm embarrased to say couldn't be more wrong, as I learned that night first when opening act My Brightest Diamond (made up entirely of Stevens band members), did their "coming next" announcement, and second when DGlass pointed out someone's T-shirt that said, as if to rub it in, "It's Soof-yan."