Stevens transcends conventions

Like an accomplished tailor, Sufjan Stevens wove together an elaborate, complex and overwhelmingly beautiful experience that transcended convention. The Michigan bred singer-songwriter led the Tabernacle crowd through a kaleidoscope of emotions towards new heights of audio ecstasy.
Most known for his use of multi-track recording, Stevens’ knowledge of each unique sound allows him to facilitate a truly unique form of symphonic sound. A member of the Asthmatic Kitty label, he plays guitar, drums, oboe and English horn but primarily favors the banjo.
His newest album is “a result of the process of working through health issues and getting much more in touch with my physical self,” Stevens sa9d in an Oct. interview with Vish Khanna.
Stevens mesmerized the crowd with new songs from his latest introspective album, The Age of Adz, including songs like “I Walked,” “Vesuvius,” “Get Real Get Right” and the title track “The Age of Adz.” Between songs, the crowd fell silent, drunk with Sufjan’s sweet musical compilations. The Age of Adz, his latest release after his five-year sabbatical, is a poetic collection of semi-electronic experimental indie rock. The album is based on the apocalyptic work of self-proclaimed prophet and schizophrenic artist, Royal Robertson.
Sufjan provided the audience with new levels of sensory overload with choreographed digital media, eccentric background dancers and more wardrobe changes than a Lady Gaga concert. From Hunter Thompson visors to gorilla masks, stunner shades to metallic pants, Sufjan kept the crowd guessing throughout the night with his spontaneous outfit changes, widespread use of props and entrancing stage presence. The digital media, primarily based upon the work of Royal Robertson, added another dimension to the acoustical bliss reverberating off the newly renovated Tabernacle walls.
Toward the end of the performance, Sufjan led the frenzied crowd to embark upon a journey, his 30-minute magnum opus, titled “Impossible Soul.” Upon the striking of the first note, the crowd quieted and braced themselves for the ride upon Sufjan Stevens’ roller coaster of musical mastery. The climax of the composition was the dance party that dissipated from the artists onstage to the crowd during the penultimate phase of the song, complete with auto-tune, quirky dancing and vibrant lights.
Although “Impossible Soul” was arguably the climax of the performance and the best use of auto tune since “Bed Intruder,” each song was carefully punctuated with Sufjan’s cosmic musings and reflective interjections. Stevens performed other crowd favorites such as “Chicago” off Come On, Feel the Illinoise, the indie pop sensation that boosted Stevens to fame. After “Chicago,” Sufjan and his band exited the stage to raucous cheering, clapping and stomping that shook the Tabernacle.
He returned shortly alone to perform “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois.” The piano-driven track transitioned seamlessly into the rest of his three-song encore as his band rejoined him for touching and nostalgic renditions of “Casmir Pulaski Day” and “Jacksonville,” which appeased crowd members who longed to hear some of his more folksy work.
Overall, Sufjan’s performance was a beautiful, overwhelming and stunning piece of art that left many speechless. The raw talent and genius that graced the Tabernacle stage seemed to speak into the souls of the audience, leaving a deep impression of unabashed joy and appreciation.
The intimacy of the show, combined with its flawless sound, fitting visual effects and avant-garde elements proved undoubtedly that Sufjan is a game-changer in the world of music; he truly is a man who has opened the door to himself and isn’t afraid of what’s on the other side.


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