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REVIEW: Sufjan Stevens @ Schnitzer (Portland, OR – 10/29/10)

30th Oct 10 (Sat) 12 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

So, the last few months has been a flurry of unexpected, yet superbly exciting information coming from Sufjan Stevens and Asthmatic Kitty.  First was the tour announcement (on Aug 9th), then a week and a half later came the immediate release of the All Delighted People EP, and less than a week later came the news of the new full length album The Age of Adz (pronounced ‘odds’).  Outside of the orchestral The BQE piece, Sufjan had been silent for a couple years (which we recently found out was due to nervous system health issues).  Within the past two months, he came roaring back in 2010 with a North American-spanning tour and two new adventurous albums (the “EP” is 58+ minutes).

The new music from Delighted and Adz is a little less accessible compared to Seven Swans or his “State” albums, but a little more poppy/accessible compared to BQE or Rabbit.  I think the new music strikes a nice balance between the adventurousness and electronic-ness in his past music… possibly “A Sun Came! updated for the Sufjan listener in 2010.”  While I don’t think it’s a repeat of A Sun Came! (at all) – that’s the best Sufjan repertoire comparison I can muster.  It’s sweeping and glitchy, quiet and loud.  But how would it translate into a live show?

Before we could find out, labelmate DM Stith hit the stage.  He only played 20 minutes, but was a good warm-up.  Nice singer-songwriter fare, with Sufjans’ horn section on “Thanksgiving Moon.” I’d heard DM’s music via AK samplers and free downloads.  It never struck me as solidly as Sufjan has, but in the live setting, he seemed to carry himself well.  After he did his tunes, he left to go put on shiny pants for Sufjan’s band.  I was slightly disappointed that he left after only 20 minutes, but that disappointment soon went away as the anticipation for Sufjan mounted.

Sufjan and his 10 piece band hit the stage around 10 ’til 9pm in shiny outfits.  His band was comprised of DM Stith on keyboards, two drummers, a 3-member torn section, a guitarist, bassist, and two backup singers/dancers.  After a short hello, they went immediate into “All Delighted People” and didn’t stop with the new material until 10:30.  I’d been listening to the new material for the past week, and glad they played some personal favorites: Heirloom, Futile Devices, The Owl and the Tanager, and the 20+ minute Impossible Soul.

Sufjan’s “slow jam” dancing to “I Walked” was charming.  The projected graphics and dark, hallowed lighting during “Vesuvius” made my friend mention that it seemed like a weird, ancient worship service.  The auto tune hip-hop near the end of “Impossible Soul” is one of my favorite parts, and it really worked in the live setting. I wish cameras had been allowed near the end, as a large luminescent diamond descended*, and Sufjan busted out the jams in front of the back-lit, strobe-diamond facade.  While that was his most “rockstar moment,” most of the show, he was talkative, yet unassuming and grateful to the audience.

* Amanda McAuley got some photos of it (some shown below), plus I found an “Impossible Soul” part 2 video snippetsee alphaleonis’ youtube for more from the show.

Setlist: about 2 1/4 hours

  • All Delighted People
  • Too Much
  • Age of Adz
  • Heirloom
  • I Walked
  • Futile Devices
  • Vesuvius
  • The Owl and the Tanager [Sufjan solo with backing vocals]
  • Get Real Get Right [with story about Royal Robertson]
  • Enchanting Ghost
  • Impossible Soul
  • Chicago
  • Encore: Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois [Sufjan solo piano]
  • Casimir Pulaski Day

It was a brilliant show.  He was quirky and subdued, gentle and cacophonous, amusing and bewildering, and all around charming.  He saved the old tunes for last, and only three Illinois tracks made the cut.  I got goosebumps as he hit the intro for “Concerning the UFO Sighting.”  While the older tunes were nice (and I wish there had been more sprinkled in), I can honestly say that the new tunes hold their own.  There’s a reason Sufjan has a piece of our hearts.  Seeing the new songs live definitely elevated those albums to being amongst my favoritesfor 2010.  After seeing them performed live, I think they fit better within his catalogue, too.  I hope it’s not another 3+ years until I get to see Sufjan and his band of musicians again.

Sidenote: Sufjan’s one of the only artists who could have pulled me away from a reported, equally awesome Nellie McKay show in Eugene (check back tomorrow for Nellie McKay photos from Margaret O’Brien – who went in my place).

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more tour dates below.

~Dan –Dave Douglas & KeystoneSpark of Being: Expand

SUFJAN STEVENS PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Sufjan’s 2010 Tour Dates

  • Tuesday, 12 October – Metropolis Theater, Montreal QC
  • Wednesday, 13 October – Massey Hall, Toronto ON
  • Thursday, 14 October – Royal Oak Music Theater, Royal Oak MI
  • Friday, 15 October – Chicago Theater, Chicago IL
  • Saturday, 16 October – Orpheum Theater, Minneapolis MN
  • Sunday, 17 October – Uptown Theater, Kansas City MO
  • Tuesday, 19 October – The Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin TX
  • Wednesday, 20 October – McFarlin Memorial Auditorium, Dallas TX
  • Friday, 22 October – Mesa Arts Center – Ikeda Theater, Mesa AZ
  • Saturday, 23 October – The Wiltern, Los Angeles CA
  • Tuesday, 26 October – The Paramount Theater, Oakland CA
  • Thursday, 28 October – Orpheum Theater, Vancouver BC
  • Friday, 29 October – Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland OR
  • Saturday, 30 October – The Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA
  • Monday, 1 November – Kingsbury Hall, Salt Lake City UT
  • Tuesday, 2 November – Paramount Theatre, Denver CO
  • Thursday, 4 November – Hilbert Circle Theatre, Indianapolis IN
  • Friday, 5 November – Bijou Theater, Knoxville TN
  • Saturday, 6 November – The Tabernacle, Atlanta GA
  • Sunday, 7 November – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville NC
  • Wednesday, 10 November – Kimmel Center, Philadelphia PA
  • Thursday, 11 November – Orpheum Theatre, Boston MA
  • Sunday, 14 November – Beacon Theatre, New York NY
  • Monday, 15 November – Beacon Theatre, New York NY

 

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Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

26th Aug 10 (Thu) 1 comment

Last week they announced the All Delighted People EP. And the week before the fall tour was announced. And today, Asthmatic Kitty announced the upcoming release of The Age of Adz (pronounced Odds), the first song-based full-length from Sufjan Stevens since 2005’s Illinois.

8/27 update: Preview of “I Walked” HERE.

http://asthmatickitty.com/the-age-of-adz

The Age of Adz tracklist
1. Futile Devices – 2:11
2. Too Much – 6:44
3. Age of Adz – 8:00
4. I Walked – 5:01 preview
5. Now That I’m Older – 4:56
6. Get Real Get Right – 5:10
7. Bad Communication – 2:24
8. Vesuvius – 5:26
9. All for Myself – 2:55
10. I Want To Be Well – 6:27
11. Impossible Soul – 25:35

The Age of Adz will drop on October 12th (CD, MP3) with a double-LP following on November 9th. For the next three weeks you can pre-order the CD or LP, and receive an MP3 download on September 28th, two weeks before the release date.

Per Asthmatic Kitty:

It’s much too soon to cast descriptive lots, but we can say the new album sounds nothing like the All Delighted EP (although it shares similar themes of love, loss, and the apocalypse). Nor is this new album built around any conceptual underpinning (no odes to states, astrology, or urban expressways). We can say it shows an extensive use of electronics (banjos and acoustic guitars give way to drum machines and analog synthesizers), and an obsession with cosmic fantasies (space, heaven, aliens, love), to create an explicit pop-song extravaganza, augmented by heavy orchestration, and maybe even a few danceable moments. Enjoy Your Rabbit meets the BQE. But with songs. Verse, chorus, bridge, backbeat. Gated reverb. Space echo. Get your boogey on. The ‘Adz’ of the title loosely refers to the apocalyptic paintings of outsider artist Royal Robertson (1930-1997), whose work is used for the album cover, interior design, and as general inspiration for the tone of the album.”

Wow… 2010 is the Year of the Sufjan.

~Dan – np: John Zorn, Bill Frisell/Marc Ribot/Tim SparksMasada Guitars 

no free mp3 download or flac torrent here ever.  if you like music, support it.  buy it.

Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People

20th Aug 10 (Fri) 2 comments

So, announced and released today, August 20th… Sufjan StevensAll Delighted People EP…

http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/

1. All Delighted People (Original Version) 11:38
2. Enchanting Ghost 03:39
3. Heirloom 02:55
4. From The Mouth Of Gabriel 04:03
5. The Owl And The Tanager 06:38
6. All Delighted People (Classic Rock Version) 08:07
7. Arnika 05:13
8. Djohariah 17:02

A near hour-long “EP”… yippie… also from Asthmatic Kitty:

The EP, All Delighted People, is built around two different versions of Sufjan’s long-form epic ballad “All Delighted People,” a dramatic homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon’s “Sounds of Silence.” Sounds delightful, yes! The song was originally workshopped (oh we hate making workshop a verb, but time is money!) on Sufjan’s previous tour in the fall of 2009. Other songs on the EP include the 17-minute guitar jam-for-single-mothers “Djohariah,” and the gothic piano ballad “The Owl and the Tanager,” a live-show mainstay (and Debbie Downer if you ask us; what’s it doing on a “Delighted” EP?). If you don’t have five dollars, you can stream the EP for free right on Bandcamp. Or if you’re into tactile sensations, we are making All Delighted People available on single-CD and double-LP formats later in 2010 (we’re aiming for December, fingers crossed). 180-gram vinyl.

~Dan – np: MasadaLive at Tonic 2001

no free mp3 download or flac torrent here ever.  if you like music, support it.  buy it.

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