Disclaimer:I’ve taken Sufjan’s fascination with deconstruction to heart in this post–it’s pretty scattered with no determinate direction.
Saturday was quite the day before THE day…I spent the early afternoon at the High Museum attempting to understand the madness of Salvador Dali, and later Sufjan Stevens was “my entertainment for the evening” at the Tabernacle. I didn’t connect the two until the following morning; both men exemplify the thin line between genius and crazy…or maybe thinking of the spectrum as a line fails to account for postmodern influence. Maybe it’s not a continuum, but a circle. Either way, these dudes are kooky and trippy as hell. Neither is limited to a particular style or medium. Both have a symbolic complexity beyond the ordinary and comprehensible, often (but not always) embodied in the way they title their work: The Remains of an Automobile Giving Birth to a Blind Horse is as intricate as some of the tracks from Illinois like “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” or “A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the way in Which Sufjan Stevens has an existential Crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze.”
Sufjan walked on stage with wings and a flock of musicians–not a new thing for him, but many in the audience have only google imaged this majesty. He opened with “Seven Swans,” and he slowly spun as he played to reveal the full spectacle of the wings to the audience. In person, he is…beyond description. It felt like Lady GaGa meets Indie rock—lots of costume changes and choreography, but in a subtle, deceptively smooth way. His movements are sharp but soft. Throughout the beginning of the show, I was mesmerized by his beauty.
Check it out in this video someone posted of Vesuvius. My favorite line of this song is “Sufjan, follow your heart…” like he’s talking to himself.
From the title track: he described this song as an “apocalyptic love song.” He must have used the word “apocalyptic” nine times throughout the evening.
For what you see is
Not fantasy, it’s
Not what it gets, but gives
This is the Age of Adz
It lives in all of us
To me, the name Victoria symbolizes colonization—English explorers naming their acquisitions after their queen. After all, land is gendered female. Do you think that like me, Suf is fascinated by the idea of colonization of the mind? Is he saying that each of us harbor a spirit of conquest in some way or another?
Sufjan dedicated “Get Real Get Right” to Royal Robertson, who Wikipedia describes here: “Numerous hallucinatory visions of space travel where aliens predicted the End of Days through complex numerological formulas and warned him about the dangers of adultery and fornication led Robertson to believe that he was a victim of a global female conspiracy. He believed that his ex-wife’s betrayal would be the cause of the cataclysmic destruction of humanity, and that his art was divinely sanctioned.” Sufjan told us that Robertson had been visited by angels, UFO’s, and even God himself on several occasions. Again, the line between genuis and mad man blurs. Robertson is responsible for all of the album artwork, and the screen displayed his trailer home with his prolific work scattered around. It was some crazy a$$ s***.
So where does my crushing stand after seeing him in person? In some ways, the lyrics “Boy, we can do much more together…it’s not so impossible,” from “Impossible Soul” ring true, but as Jeff aptly pointed out after one of his long pontifications on alternate realities and the space age, “You wouldn’t want to come home to that every night.” He’s so heady, it’s almost much too much. SufJohn (as he pronounced it falsely on stage one time) might be too deep even for Moxie, but the fascination persists.
And after all, he did pull through with Casimir Pulaski Day in the encore; I should never have doubted him.