"[P]oetry makes nothing happen: it survives, / [...] a way of happening, a mouth." -W. H. Auden

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brief Notes on a Sufjan Stevens Concert

Sufjan Stevens in concert ~ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville, NC ~ November 7, 2010

Please excuse the quality of these photos. I'm not a photographer, I don't have a fancy camera, and my seat wasn't terribly close to the stage. Still, I hope these images convey something of the experience.

Talking to the audience, Sufjan paraphrased Whitman: "Walt Whitman said that we contain multitudes. If so, I think we should also exhibit multitudes. That's just to explain my aesthetic a little bit."

Animated projections incorporated art by Royal Robertson, a paranoid schizophrenic artist from Louisiana. Sufjan summarized Robertson's life and explained that he was the inspiration for much of his latest album, "The Age of Adz" (pronounced ah-dz).

You can hear Sufjan's recent EP, "All Delighted People," for free in its entirety here. I especially recommend the final track, "Djohariah."

Some of the most enrapturing projections were points of light that fell like snow, then coalesced like swarms of stars articulating new constellations: swans, bedroom windows, and landscapes.

 Retro dancing craziness . . . in a glowing diamond.

The costumes and the visual effects have been put aside for the encore. They played several songs, then Sufjan performed his final song alone on stage, an older song of his about the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr. It is a harrowing song. But perhaps the most shocking moment comes last, when the song ends quietly with the lyrics, "And in my best behavior / I am really just like him. / Look beneath the floorboards / for the secrets I have hid." It seemed an astonishing gesture toward humility and confession--hyperbolic, yes, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to claim of more popular musicians that they suffer from an excessive sense of humility rather than the opposite?

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