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REVIEW: Sufjan Stevens presents the Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice @ Aladdin Theater (Portland, OR – 12/6/12)

7th Dec 12 (Fri) 5 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Sufjan's 2012 hristmas Sing-a-long Tour

I hate Christmas music.  There are a few rare instances where it doesn’t make me cringe.  Over the Rhine’s Darkest Night of the Year and Monk’s How Like A Winter are rare exceptions.  One of my favorite artists, Sufjan Stevens, has put out Christmas EPs each year for his closest group of friends, and then they eventually make their way out to the public via now two EP boxsets (Songs For Christmas & Silver and Gold).  While some of the more standard Christmasy songs from Sufjan make me cringe (it’s not his fault), he finds a way to have some experimentation and wild unique new songs that makes the boxsets fully enjoyable… even for a bah-humbug like me.  And the boxsets also include cool arts and crafts…

Sheila Saputo (aka Rosie Thomas)

Despite my dislike of Chrtistmas songs, when I found out that Sufjan was bringing his 2012 Christmas Sing-a-Long tour (the Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice) through Portland’s Aladdin Theater, I knew I needed to go.

His opener / tour co-hort is Sheila Saputo… the quirky comedic alter ego of singer-songwriter Rosie Thomassee her trailer here.

Sheila put on a 20 minute set of fairly ridiculous, self-depricating humor.. partially eating a carrot throughout the set, making balloon “animals” (term used very loosely), and spelling out the important aspects of the acronym CAROLS: Carnal Treasures, Armageddon, etc (see photos at the bottom).

At 8:45pm, Sufjan and his band hit the stage (including the de-frocked Sheila Saputo/Rosie Thomas in a snowman suit).  They started things off in front of the stage curtain with a gentle acappella version of “Christmas Time Is Here,” then… curtains up and behold the majesty of the Wheel of Christmas!!!

The set was obviously going to be full of Christmas songs.  Some on their setlist and some chosen “randomly.”  For many of the Wheel of Christmas Sing-a-Long tunes, they brought up members of the audience to spin for the selection.  Near the end, some rigging of the wheel had to be done to fit in some we hadn’t done yet.  I think we hit everything on the Wheel except for “Silent Night.”

They also threw in a few non-Christmas tunes throughout the set and at the encore…

Setlist: 2 hrs 10 mins

  • Christmas Time Is Here (acappella) [Vince Guaraldi]
  • Christmas Woman
  • Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!
  • Do You Hear What I Hear?
  • Justice Delivers Its Death*
  • Joy to the World (Wheel of Christmas Sing-A-Long)
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Wheel)
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas (Wheel)
  • Jingle Bells (Wheel)
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Wheel)
  • Vito’s Ordination Song*
  • Put the Lights on the Tree
  • How Shall I Fitly Greet Thee?
  • I Am Santa’s Helper
  • “Frosty” (improv rock, chant, Rosie cutting santa up with plastic chainsaw)
  • Sister Winter*
  • Ah Holy Jesus
  • The Child with the Star on His Head*
  • Sleigh Ride (Wheel, noted as “Slay Ride”)
  • O Holy Night (Wheel)
  • We Need a Little Christmas (Wheel)
  • Auld Lang Syne* (Wheel)
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (Wheel)
  • For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti*
  • Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  • That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!*
  • Christmas Unicorn*
  • Encore: Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois*
  • Futile Devices*
  • Chicago*
  • Come On! Feel the Illinoise!*
    *-
    personal favorites from the night

I truly hate most Christmas music, but this was a FUUUUUUUUUUUUUN show!  Sufjan and his band make the music fun, the original tunes (even if Christmasy) are spectacles of greatness or touching, gentler tunes, and the overall party factor of this tour is truly astounding.  I’d hate to have been on the clean-up crew… confetti, streamers, popped balloons, and random blow-up animals and santas…

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more tour dates below.

Next show for me… Charlie Hunter @ Mississippi Studios (12/7) and Antibalas @ Hawthorne (12/8).

~Dan – np: John ZornRimbaud
John Zorn - Rimbaud

SUFJAN STEVENS CHRISTMAS SING-A-LONG PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2012 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Sufjan Stevens Fall 2012 Tour Dates

  • Fri Nov 23, 2012 – Philadelphia PA Union Transfer
  • Sat Nov 24, 2012 – Washington DC 9:30 Club
  • Sun Nov 25, 2012 – Saxapahaw NC The Haw River Ballroom
  • Mon Nov 26, 2012 – Athens GA The Georgia Theatre
  • Tue Nov 27, 2012 – Chattanooga TN Track 29
  • Wed Nov 28, 2012 – Oxford MS The Lyric Oxford
  • Fri Nov 30, 2012 – Dallas TX Granada Theater
  • Sat Dec 01, 2012 – Austin TX Emo’s East
  • Mon Dec 03, 2012 – Tucson AZ Rialto Theatre
  • Tue Dec 04, 2012 – Los Angeles CA The Fonda Theatre (formerly The Music Box)
  • Wed Dec 05, 2012 – San Francisco CA Great American Music Hall
  • Thu Dec 06, 2012 – Portland OR Aladdin Theater
  • Sat Dec 08, 2012 – Seattle WA Neptune Theatre
  • Sun Dec 09, 2012 – Missoula MT Wilma Theatre
  • Wed Dec 12, 2012 – Minneapolis MN Mill City Nights (Formerly The Brick)
  • Thu Dec 13, 2012 – Milwaukee WI Turner Hall
  • Fri Dec 14, 2012 – Indianapolis IN Deluxe @ Old National Centre
  • Sat Dec 15, 2012 – Chicago IL Metro
  • Sun Dec 16, 2012 – Cleveland OH Beachland Ballroom
  • Tue Dec 18, 2012 – Buffalo NY Asbury Hall @ Babeville
  • Wed Dec 19, 2012 – Providence RI Fete
  • Thu Dec 20, 2012 – Boston MA Royale
  • Fri Dec 21, 2012 – New York NY Bowery Ballroom
  • Sat Dec 22, 2012 – New York NY Bowery Ballroom

Sufjan Steven’s horror/christmas claymation “Mr. Frosty Man”

29th Oct 12 (Mon) Leave a comment

Three Sufjan Stevens posts in a row?  Sorry… I promise I’ll get an October concert recap (Aimee Mann, Nellie McKay, Peter Mulvey/Kris Delmhorst, Dan Deacon) up soon… in the meantime, this new claymation/stop motion music video for Sufjan’s “Mr. Frosty Man” is perfect for both the Christmas & Halloween crowds…


Animation by Lee Hardcastle

Pre-order his upcoming Silver and Gold (Christmas EP boxset #2) on 5 CDs or 58 mp3.  The 5-vinyl set appears to be sold out (via bandcamp).

~Dan – np: TomahawkTomahawk

Sufjan Stevens – Nov/Dec 2012 Tour

10th Oct 12 (Wed) Leave a comment

As reported last week, Sufjan Stevens is releasing a new Christmas boxset this winter – and now, he just announced a tour in the U.S….

Sufjan Stevens’ 2012 Tour Dates with Sheila Saputo

aka The Sirfjam Stephanapolous Christmas Sing-A-Long
Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant
Variety Show Distaster

  • Fri Nov 23, 2012 – Philadelphia PA Union Transfer
  • Sat Nov 24, 2012 – Washington DC 9:30 Club
  • Sun Nov 25, 2012 – Saxapahaw NC The Haw River Ballroom 
  • Mon Nov 26, 2012 – Athens GA The Georgia Theatre
  • Tue Nov 27, 2012 – Chattanooga TN Track 29
  • Wed Nov 28, 2012 – Oxford MS The Lyric Oxford
  • Fri Nov 30, 2012 – Dallas TX Granada Theater
  • Sat Dec 01, 2012 – Austin TX Emo’s East
  • Mon Dec 03, 2012 – Tucson AZ Rialto Theatre
  • Tue Dec 04, 2012 – Los Angeles CA The Fonda Theatre (formerly The Music Box)
  • Wed Dec 05, 2012 – San Francisco CA Great American Music Hall
  • Thu Dec 06, 2012 – Portland OR Aladdin Theater
  • Sat Dec 08, 2012 – Seattle WA Neptune Theatre
  • Sun Dec 09, 2012 – Missoula MT Wilma Theatre
  • Wed Dec 12, 2012 – Minneapolis MN Mill City Nights (Formerly The Brick)
  • Thu Dec 13, 2012 – Milwaukee WI Turner Hall
  • Fri Dec 14, 2012 – Indianapolis IN Deluxe @ Old National Centre
  • Sat Dec 15, 2012 – Chicago IL Metro
  • Sun Dec 16, 2012 – Cleveland OH Beachland Ballroom
  • Tue Dec 18, 2012 – Buffalo NY Asbury Hall @ Babeville
  • Wed Dec 19, 2012 – Providence RI Fete
  • Thu Dec 20, 2012 – Boston MA Royale
  • Fri Dec 21, 2012 – New York NY Bowery Ballroom
  • Sat Dec 22, 2012 – New York NY Bowery Ballroom

Sufjan Stevens will jingle-jangle his way across America, bringing yuletide cheer to your local music club, sharing reverent hymns and pop carols from his upcoming Christmas album Silver & Gold. “The Sirfjam Stephanapolous Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant Variety Show Distaster” will be a tragic-comedic feast for the ears and eyes.

Sufjan will be joined by a 5-piece band (including Rosie Thomas, Nedelle Torissi, Casey Foubert, James McAlister, and Ben Lanz) playing all the hits from both Christmas box sets. Send us your song requests!

All Grinches be forewarned: the show will consist entirely of Christmas music, inviting audience participation.

Extra-special guest Sheila Saputo—the hottest ticket from Gary, Indiana—will be opening all dates with her indelible ice-breaking pizzazz.

General admission goes on sale on Friday (10/12). Check your local venue for ticket links and availability times.  A very limited number of presale tickets will go on sale Wednesday October 10th at 10am (in whatever timezone the venue is in). Don’t worry if you don’t get a ticket on Wednesday – general admission goes on sale on Friday.  Click here to buy presale tickets (available at 10am on October 10th in the venue’s timezone).

Pre-order his upcoming Silver and Gold (Christmas EP boxset #2) on 5 CDs or 58 mp3.  The 5-vinyl set appears to be sold out (via bandcamp).

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter & Scott AmendolaNot Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead

Sufjan Stevens’ Silver & Gold (Xmas EP #’s 6-10)

2nd Oct 12 (Tue) Leave a comment

Update: the stop-motion Lego video is at the bottom.

Pre-order his upcoming Silver and Gold (Christmas EP boxset #2) on 5 CDs or 58 mp3.  The 5-vinyl set appears to be sold out (via bandcamp).

“Happy Holidays! On November 13, 2012, Asthmatic Kitty Records will release (another!) Christmas box-set extravaganza by the implacable singer/songwriter Sufjan StevensSilver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10, a compilation of 5 EPs recorded between 2006 and 2010.

Expanding on the tradition of the first box-set (Songs for Christmas, Vols. 1-5 from 2006), Silver & Gold is a generous document of five more years of holly-jolly jubilee — Christmas caroling, sleigh-bell-ringing, collaborative songwriting — undertaken by Sufjan and his various musical cohorts. Originally intended as gifts for family and friends, these musical snapshots have been re-mixed and re-assembled for the public in an exquisitely-designed gift box containing all the Yuletide pleasures money can buy: Christmas stickers, temporary tattoos, lyric sheets and chord charts, a paper ornament, an apocalyptic pull-out poster, photos, illustrations, and extensive liner notes—a veritable Christmas feast for the eyes and ears.

The album features collaborations with a running line-up of friends and musical peers, including Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Cat Martino (Sufjan’s right-hand woman on all things Age of Adz), Sebastian Krueger (Inlets), Gabriel Kahane, Vesper Stamper, and members of Danielson (Daniel, Elin, Lilly, and Ida). Sufjan’s own indelible aesthetic and his tireless oblique strategies (in vain pursuit of the perfect Christmas song) maintain the album’s center of gravity, resulting in an abundant compilation (nearly 60 tracks) that investigates the canon of devotional hymns and holiday pop songs with reckless abandon (totaling nearly three hours of music).

Silver & Gold surpasses its predecessor both in style and scope by taking a wider stance and embracing a more liberal ethos. The box-set sails through musical fashions as various as ornaments on a Christmas tree (covering songs from John Dowland to Johnny Marks). The folksy old-world renaissance of Gloria (Vol. 6) gives way to bi-polar impertinence on I Am Santa’s Helper (Vol. 7). Christmas Infinity Voyage (Vol. 8) looks to the cosmos (and the drum machine) for inspiration, while Let It Snow (Vol. 9) and Christmas Unicorn (Vol.10) show a giddy return to form, unselfconsciously reveling in all the bubble-gum show tunes from the 1950s and 60s (“A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” to name a few).

There are also 18 original songs intermixed throughout (some of them co-written or wholly composed by guest collaborators). Sufjan’s contribution to the Christmas canon exhibits an ever-expanding canopy of approaches: there’s the moody and affectionate Christmas ballad (“Happy Karma Christmas”), an ecclesiastical take on the Burl Ives classic “Silver & Gold” (re-titled here as “Justice Delivers Its Gift”), the rowdy, garage-rock, rumble-in-the-snow-bank (“Mr. Frosty Man”) and the psychedelic pop-anthem (“Christmas Unicorn”) that attempts to reconcile new age magic, fantasy fiction, and the commodification of Christmas with expository deftness.

Silver & Gold is more than just another Christmas album, but an ongoing exercise in theme and variation, an annual tradition that offers this songwriter a chance to experiment with fashion and technique without taking himself too seriously. Sufjan’s playful (yet purposeful) expedition through the superficial landscape of sugar plum fairies and marshmallow fluff has produced an exuberant musical account of “all things Christmas” in the pursuit of the sublime. What distinguishes this project from the glut of Christmas albums saturating the market today are Sufjan’s unguarded enthusiasm for the genre itself (the sense of freedom he shows in celebrating with reverence and rebellion) and the belief that Christmas music contains a multiplicity of sacred and secular significance (from Baby Jesus to Babes in Toyland) that is ultimately ours for the taking. It’s safe to say that no one has taken it further than Sufjan, for better and for worse.

Thanks for listening and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

Silver & Gold will be available in digital download, a CD box-set available November 13th, with a limited edition of 2000 vinyl box-sets available later this year or early 2013.

A special edition of the vinyl boxset, which will include some extra surprises, is available to US/Canada/EU for pre-order:

http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/album/silver-gold

The CD Boxset includes: (price not listed yet)

1. Five CD EPs

2. Christmas stickers

3. Temporary tattoos  (non-toxic & safe for children)

4. A paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)

5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster

6. Song lyrics and chord charts (sing along with your friends and enemies)

7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)

8. Extensive liner notes (introductory salutations and an essay on the Christmas tree by Sufjan Stevens, and a few theological words on the End Times by Pastor Vito Aiuto)

The vinyl boxset includes: ($120 + S/H)

1. Five EPs on 6 vinyl discs

2. Christmas stickers

3. Temporary tattoos

4. A paper ornament

5. A 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions

6. A Christmas coloring book

7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design

8. Extensive liner notes

Whoa!

Sufjan Stevens Lego Movie

~Dan – np: Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias BossiNiagara Falling: Tales for the Stage, III

Sufjan/Son Lux/Serengeti “Museum Day” & Björk “Hollow (video)

7th Mar 12 (Wed) Leave a comment

As previously announced, Sufjan Stevens will team up with Anticon artists Son Lux and Serengeti under the name s / s / s for an EP, Beak & Claw, that will drop on March 20th (the vinyl is available for pre-order now).

Yesterday, they posted a song from the release called “Museum Day,” a slow-building jam with some big, auto-tuned hooks from Sufjan.

Hear it below:

Yesterday also saw the release of the official music video for Björk’sHollow” (from Biophilia)…quite colorful and science-y… HD video below:

Talking about the video, Björk says:

It’s just the feeling when you start thinking about your ancestors and DNA that the grounds open below you and you can feel your mother and her mother, and her mother, and her mother, and her mother 30,000 years back. So suddenly you’re this kinda tunnel, or trunk of DNA… All these ghosts come up so it ended up begin a Halloween song and quite gothic in a way… It’s like being part of this everlasting necklace when you’re just a bead on a chain and you sort of want to belong and be a part of it and it’s just like a miracle.

Which is what we were all thinking, of course.

~Dan – np: John ZornMoonchild: Songs Without Words

The evolution of Shara Worden

18th Oct 11 (Tue) 3 comments

Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond has a new album out today… Oct 18th.  All Things Will Unwind is only her third studio album under the MBD moniker, but she’s put out a ton of other material (pre-MBD bands, side projects).  Here’s a full (but not necessarily complete) chronological video walk through her career.  And a quick & easy link on how to get her FANTASTIC new album at the bottom…

AwRy
Brave Elephant” (2001)
song only, not official music video

My Brightest Diamond
Dragonfly” from Bring Me the Workhorse (2006)

Magic Rabbit” from Workhorse

We Were Sparkling” from Workhorse

Something of an End” from Workhorse (2006)

Disappear” (remix) from Tear It Down (2007)

Inside a Boy” from A Thousand Shark’s Teeth (2008)

From the Top of the World” from Shark’s (2008)

Apples” (live) from Shark’s (2008)

Crazy On You (Heart cover)” with the Decemberists (live 2009)

The Lotus Eaters” from Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Penelope (2010)

The Sea” from Letters to Distant Cities (2011)

I’m On Fire” with Stateless (2011)

Be Brave” from All Things Will Unwind (2011)

We Added It Up” from All Things Will Unwind (2011)

Hopefully now you see why I love her so… if you like what you hear, swing by the Amazons and pick up her newest album.  CD, vinyl or mp3 download (on Asthmatic Kitty).  It came out today…

~Dan – np: PusciferConditions of My Parole

Sufjan Stevens “Futile Devices” on WNYC

27th Jul 11 (Wed) Leave a comment

One of the most gorgeous songs from The Age of AdzSufjan Stevens plays “Futile Devices” on WNYC Soundcheck.

The video for “Pleasure Principle” was posted earlier this week.  The full show (audio) is available as a podcast and on WNYC.com.  On the audio, he also performs “Heirloom” and talks with host John Schaefer.  The album, which came out last year, is for sale on Amazon for only $5 (digital version).

~Dan – np: Wadada Leo Smith & Jack DeJohnetteAmerica

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