I love taking someone who has never previously had the pleasure to their first Sufjan Stevens show. Naturally, one would assume that his performances are pretty much all about emotional banjo songs and tender moments, and while there were a few of those at his show at the Beacon Theatre the other night, there were also projection screens, light up costumes, balloon drops, beach balls, and dancing. Dancing? Yup, boy's got some moves.
Sufjan opened with a plugged-in version of "Seven Swans" and went on to perform mostly new material from his latest album, The Age of Adz. A few of his newer songs, namely the epic "Impossible Soul" are an average of fifteen minutes in length, but he performs them in such a way that they never lag, but rather take the audience on a trip to wherever he's trying to take us. The set design for this tour included drop down screens projecting art by, and inspired by, the prophet Royal Robertson, who was a schizophrenic artist and sign painter from Louisiana who hallucinated visions of space travel, and space creatures who warned of the end times. This theme settled in well with Stevens' new adoration for auto-tuning. The second half of his rendition of "Impossible Soul" turned in to an auto-tuned, dance party with Stevens taking the lead, breaking it all down with shoulder rolls and white boy fingers to the sky. It was almost too much to contain. The joy I felt watching him dance was delirious enough, and then when balloons started falling on my head, forget about it. I think it's safe to say that I will go see him play every time he performs, in whatever city I happen to be living in, forevs.
Watch this video and it'll be like you were there.