Sufjan Stevens and the Illinoise-makers
I'm sorry it has taken me so long to post something. . . But the post I have for you today includes pictures!!! YAY!
So Saturday night, Lauren and I took the long way to Athens, GA and saw Sufjan Stevens in concert. That's "SOOF-yawn" for all of you newcomers! (For the longest time, I couldn't remember his name. I kept spelling it like this: Soguosthj;ghoa.)
About a month and a half ago, when Lauren and Lexi first introduced me to his music, I decided I liked the music but not Sufjan's voice. After the concert, I decided I like the music AND his voice, although I sometimes think he sings when he should just leave the music instrumental. I say that because his music really is great as just music. Sufjan plays the piano, banjo, guitar, and apparently a bunch of other instruments. But what I really like is that he utilizes pretty much every available musical sound. He has backup musicians who play the drums, trombone, and trumpet. They harmonize, snap their fingers, and clap their hands. It's great!
For this particular tour, the backups are called the Illinoise-makers. Why? Well, Sufjan Stevens has decided to create an album for each of the 50 states! Right now, obviously, he's on Illinois. He's already done Michigan. Before that, he made a "regular" album -- "Seven Swans." I really like that one, but I think the whole 50 states thing is cool. I mean for the next 48 years, he'll have material. I wonder if that makes songwriting easier or more difficult. I also wonder if he'll finish, and I am of the opinion that he won't. But as for now, I'll enjoy his music, which maybe sounds like it'd be cheesy at this point, but I promise it's not! It's actually classified as Christian music, I think. I normally don't listen to what is termed "Christian music/rock/whatever" (unless you include church hymns), but his music is pretty original. He sings with Christian themes in mind, but the music basically comes out as folksy fictional stories with religious/spiritual undertones. He talks about this in an interview with Pitchfork Media, which you can read here.
Anyway, here are the pics. Don't forget to check out samples of his music on all of those links above.
The show was at the 40 Watt in Athens. For those of you who don't live in Georgia, I'll explain what all of us Gawjuns know about the 40 Watt. It originally started out as a club with just one 40-Watt lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. Oh, and NOBODY calls it the "40 Watt Club," as the sign below shows. It's ALWAYS referred to, more coolly, as the "40 Watt."
Okay, so this picture is perhaps not the most interesting, but I had to try to capture the atmosphere. The room had miniature Christmas lights all over. It was like a fairyland. (As I'm typing this, I'm thinking how interesting it is that I -- and I think most people -- refer to miniature lights as Christmas lights.)
Here is Sufjan Stevens and one of his Illinoise-makers. Sufjan is all decked out in his star-spangled jumpsuit, a nod to the patriotic theme. This Illinoise-maker had a great voice, I thought. And she seemed really, really happy and cheerful, as did most of the band. I mention it because cheerfulness is definitely an anomaly in the music scene.
Here is the most panoramic view I could get of the band. I LOVE concert lights; they're so cool.
This was just before the show ended. Sufjan and his crew had just been through Illinois on their way to Georgia, and stopped to get this blow-up Superman in Metropolis, IL.
This is obviously not a very good picture (The lighting at the 40 Watt is terrible for taking pictures!), but it's the last one I took. It was the 2nd encore and a nice acoustic song.
Thing I'm thankful for: Video phones. Lily, Macy, and I have been having a ball with my new one.