Sufjan Stevens

What a difference a year makes.

I saw Sufjan Stevens live for the first time last June, when he toured with Carrie & Lowell. It was a somber, moving experience, a concert of two halves. He came out in a t-shirt,  alone, played the first five or six tracks of the album without interacting with the audience, beginning in darkness, a single spotlight on him, and then more of the screen behind him playing through a slideshow of family photos and coastal backdrops.

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Then he began chatting with the audience, we laughed at his story of said t-shirt being acquired at a thrift shop, and I had an incredible night.

At Outside Lands yesterday, metres from the stage while it was being set up, I saw balloons, wings, bright colours, light, high-fives with dancers (what?) and his musicians.

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He was smiling, went through outfit changes, danced, rearranged the songs he did play from Carrie & Lowell, and got everyone in the audience to happily embrace death.

What a difference a year makes.

It’s the clearest example of connecting with an artist and his feelings being poured out to the world that I’ve felt.

Halfway through yesterday’s ‘Should Have Known Better’, the electronic keyboard kicked in. I love the song. It is literally the song I have listened to the most, in my life if last.fm is correct. The moment when the keyboard plays is one I anticipated. I was looking forward to, because it fills me with sad joy. Yesterday though, as it began playing, he said “the worst is behind us now”, or something to that affect, and it was an instant flood of emotions that I couldn’t have predicted. It was some kind of spiritual cleansing.

I wonder what everyone else felt?




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