Posted in music | pictures on October 5, 2009

photos by Tammy Lo, words by Andrew Frisicano

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens played the first show of his four-night NYC run last night (10/4) at Bowery Ballroom. The set mostly covered material from Seven Swans (visited extensively at ATP NY in Sept.), Michigan, Illinois and new tracks. Full setlist and more pictures from that show, below.

His current tour dates (including all four NYC shows) are with Sufjan's Asthmatic Kitty labelmates Cryptacize (who are touring with Fiery Furnaces this November). That's just one of many goings-on Sufjan has with the Asthmatic Kitty label he co-founded. He's collaborating with his step-father (also the label's other co-founder) Lowell Brams on Music for Insomnia, Brams' debut and part of the label's Library Catalog series. The album, due December 8th, also includes contributions by Bryce Dessner (of the National and the Long Count) and cover art by Asthmatic Kitty's DM Stith.

Stith will be opening at Sufjan's Osso Quartet/BQE shows at 92YTribeca on October 24th and 25th. Two two screening on the 24th are sold out, but there's still tickets for the show on the 25th.

The Osso Quartet is taking that show on the road at the end of October into early November. The last show of the tour was to be at TBA venue in Philly. Instead it appears that they're closing out the tour at the Bell House on Sunday, November 7th. Tickets are on sale now. If is unclear if Sufjan will actually be at the new date. He will be at 92Y, but not on the rest of that tour.

In 2000, Asthmatic Kitty artist Shannon Stephens was interviewed by Sufjan to discuss her just-released debut album. He interviewed her again a few weeks ago to catch up and discuss The Breadwinner, Shannon's first album in 10 years, which came out September 8th. In the new interview (more of a discussion), Sufjan revealed some interesting things about himself...

Sufjan: I'm at a point where I no longer have a deep desire to share my music with anyone, having spent many years imparting my songs to the public. Although I have great respect for the social dynamic of music--that it should be shared with others, that it brings people together--I now feel something personal is irrevocably lost in this process. Now, while I refuse to act wholly on this impulse (I refuse to take my audience for granted in spite of my mood), I'm still trying to find the value of the song in private. Having spent ten years in private (not sharing your music), can you offer some wisdom on this matter? Does a song have any meaning even it's not shared?
A new video from Shannon is posted below.

More pics, video and the setlist from Sufjan's 10/4 Bowery show, with the above mentioned Asthmatic Kitty goodies, below...

Bowery Ballroom...

Sufjan Stevens

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Sufjan Stevens - To Be Alone With You @ Bowery Ballroom 10/04

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Shannon Stephens- In Summer in the Heat

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Sufjan Stevens 10/4 Bowery Ballroom setlist (via)
The Mistress Witch from McClure (or The Mind That Knows Itself)
Impossible Soul (new song)
Transfiguration
Casimir Pulaski Day
All Delighted People (new song)
All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands
New song (no name given... but I call it "Victoria")
To Be Alone With You
The Dress Looks Nice on You
Majesty, Snowbird
Jacksonville
Detroit, Lift Your Weary Head! (Rebuild!)
Chicago (acoustic)

Encore 1:
John Wayne Gacy Jr.

Encore 2: (solo banjo)
Lakes of Canada (Innocence Mission cover)

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Lowell Brams
Lowell Brams - Music for Insomnia tracklist
1. Chattering Garden Trolls
2. Alpha to Theta
3. Short Circadian Partita
4. Hypnagogic Hallucination
5. Melatonin Lullaby
6. Horse Spindles
7. Dream About Vince Guaraldi
8. A Cross Section of Clown Mountain

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Comments (45)

He is now officially too old to be wearing his hat crooked.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:23 PM

anyone have set times from last night?

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:25 PM

I like Sufjan. I went last nite and was able to get in cause they released some tickets. However, HOLY SHIT. I have always thought NY has some of the lamest concert crowds in the world. But last night topped the list on my worst concert crowd experience...Are you f@cking kidding me. What a lame lame lame group of people. You are allowed to dance... you are allowed to move your head...you are allowed to sing (at some points)...you are allowed to cheer the musician you love...you are allowed to get excited when you hear the first 3 notes of your favorite song.... not this crowd. The show was good, not memorable. The crowd sucked and Sufjan's new songs are not quite as good as the older amazing beautiful songs he has. Im glad it was only 15. CANT WAIT FOR BROADCAST.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:27 PM

10 PM for Sufjan

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:29 PM

"Sufjan Stevens 10/4 Bowery Ballroom setlist (via)
The Mistress Witch from McClure (or The Mind That Knows Itself)
Impossible Soul (new song)
Transfiguration
Casimir Pulaski Day
All Delighted People (new song)
All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands
New song (no name given... but I call it "Victoria")
To Be Alone With You
The Dress Looks Nice on You
Majesty, Snowbird
Jacksonville
Detroit, Lift Your Weary Head! (Rebuild!)
Chicago (acoustic)

Encore 1:
John Wayne Gacy Jr.

Encore 2: (solo banjo)
Lakes of Canada (Innocence Mission cover)"

The new song without a name was called "The Age of Adz," I think

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:34 PM

So in other words he's about to pull a Mangum on us?

Posted by tomw | October 5, 2009 12:38 PM

Bryce Dessner was playing in the band last night, and Rosie Thomas was singing back up vocals! Everyone was pretty quiet/still as 12:27 mentioned, but it wasn't annoying: it was respectful silence. It was kind of cool, actually.

This was a great show!

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:38 PM

encore 1 and 2? He came out for two seperate encores? Or he played two songs for a single encore? lulz

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:41 PM

what time was he done?

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:44 PM

@ 12:27, I completely disagree. For once, I was in a crowd that was respectful, but was not in fact 'dead'. So many people were simply too much in awe of the performance to be moving all about. For his new, electro/prog/etc songs (which were a much appreciated change), the people around me were dancing around and having lots of fun. I thought this was one of the best shows I've been to this past year, and is definitely one of the most memorable.

Posted by lauren | October 5, 2009 12:45 PM

Opener started at 9. Sufjan shortly after 10. Show ended 11:45, I believe.

12:27: Of course NY crowds are going to be lame compared to whatever town you're from. The more good shows a place has, the less excited people are going to be. And no, you're not allowed to dance or sing. We're not paying to have YOU sing in our ears.

Casimir Pulaski Day was the highlight, for me.

Posted by Cuse | October 5, 2009 12:49 PM

what were the set times? including cryptacize..what time did they start

thanks

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:50 PM

highlights were casimir pulaski day, to be alone with you (both hauntingly beautiful), and a gorgeous new arrangement of chicago

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:53 PM

Thanks for sharing that quote, BV.

Lately been listening to random songs that sound very personal and thinking about how can these people share stuff like this with the world. I can see someone reaching that point of "not wanting to share".

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 12:58 PM

if people thought CASIMIR PULASKI DAY was a highlight, i'm glad i'm taking a sufjan break. if i have to hear that song one more time i'm going to slit my wrists.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 1:13 PM

1:13, why not go do that now...

Posted by RT | October 5, 2009 1:37 PM


Helado Negro

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 1:50 PM

The show last night was great. I found it a bit schizophrenic at times with his jumping between genres and albums.

The new songs were effing awesome. what a cool direction he is taking. I kind of wished the whole concert consisted of just the new songs to keep the experimental/prog/electro party going. The songs were dark too, which made it more interesting and suited to the dark days in which we currently live.

There were some tools in the crowd, especially in the back with some drunk Eurotrash louts. that's the problem when cool artists get popular. but at least he is not at U2 level of ibanker popularity yet.

Posted by GayFish | October 5, 2009 1:55 PM

Amazing show.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 1:57 PM

The poor guy seemed terrified on stage, which is sad, because his performance was nearly flawless. New renditions of Chicago and Majesty Snowbird were definite highlights, along with all the new post-rock-inspired material.

Also, kudos to Sufjan and his band for doing their own roadie-work. I don't think I've ever seen an artist of his stature help with a set-change. Keeping the tickets at $15 was a nice touch too, given that he easily could have charged 4x as much and still sold out.

@12:45 completely agree. The crowd was respectful, and there for the music. Pretty sure I've never been to a show where audible gasps were heard from the audience throughout the set.

Had a bit of a chuckle at the 3 or 4 people who cheered at the start of 'Casamir Pulaski Day,' who abruptly bit their tongues upon realizing just how inappropriate it was.

Posted by andrew | October 5, 2009 2:09 PM

I totally can't fathom why people think his new direction is any good at all...his "space jams" sound like a bunch of teenagers "jamming" in my basement.

Sufjan should stick with what he is good at: very quiet, intimate songs that make you want to cuddle on cold winter nights.

plus he's not a very good electric guitar soloist...seriously drop the fucking whammy pedal...


deeply disappointed in the direction he is headed

Posted by deeply disappointed | October 5, 2009 2:10 PM

re: deeply disappointed ... "cuddle on cold winter nights"?

? are you serious? One thing that really annoys me about Sufjan fans are the legions of girls who think he is the perfect man for them or something. get over it. he is a cool, innovative artist. he should push creative boundaries. he's not on a major label, so he can do what he wants and we get to enjoy. btw, he doesn't want to date you and he probably hates you too.

bhahaha!

Posted by GayFish | October 5, 2009 2:20 PM

I don't to date the dude.

I am just sayin' I don't like the direction he is going. I totally understand his need and right to stretch and expand his artistic vision; I'm just saying that it doesn't work for me. I would bet that is he puts out an album of SPACE JAMZ similar to his last Xmas Album he will incur the wrath of most of his fans and the blog-tits-phere...so yeah he can do that, fuck it...

shit is weak.

p.s. I would have said the same shit about Dylan when he went electric...guess it is my own inner-aesthetic turmoil...

bwahahahahah

Posted by deeply disappointed | October 5, 2009 2:25 PM

oops...meant I don't "WANT" to date the dude.

Posted by deeply disappointed | October 5, 2009 2:26 PM

I would love to hear sister, like the last time he was in NYC (i think)

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 2:27 PM

Which Sufjan songs are good for "cold winter night cuddling?"

Posted by Katie | October 5, 2009 2:31 PM

2:31- John Wayne Gacy Jr.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 2:35 PM

Katie if you can't figure that out I can't help you.

Posted by deeply disappointed | October 5, 2009 2:35 PM

@ 2:35 - That's what I thought, the song about the serial killer.

Posted by Katie | October 5, 2009 2:41 PM

Honestly, I thought he was going to 'retire' John Wayne Gacy. that's what he said at the BQE performances. also, I think he should give 'Chicago' a break too.

I think there is too much pressure from the Goober wing of his fanbase who demand certain songs and ballads be performed @ every show.

I think he should just push forward and focus on the new stuff and blow us all away.

Posted by GayFish | October 5, 2009 2:45 PM

Gayfish = sycophant.

Let him blow your mind! oooh maybe he can "jam" with Tre and Phil Lesh too!


I agree retire those old songs...but dude should focus on what he is good at, quiet plaintive songs about sad shit.

Posted by deeply disappointed | October 5, 2009 2:54 PM

Did anyone play find the darkies at the show last night? If so, did anyone actually win (security doesn't count)?

Posted by sensitive susy | October 5, 2009 3:08 PM

wtf 3:08

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 3:11 PM

the opener went on at 9 PM? weren't doors open at 7:30? the music started an hour and a half later?

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 4:23 PM

Yes. OPENER at 9pm.

Unless I'm going crazy. Was a long, long night.

Posted by Cuse | October 5, 2009 4:36 PM

thanks cuse, im wondering what time to go tonight

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 4:49 PM

The audience tonight was truly covered in sh*t and pi$$. No water in the Bowery bathrooms and limited use of the toilets.

Worst crowd I've ever been in. I-bankers were out in full effect with their coked out dates who either talked or texted the whole show. Most people seemed more concerned about laying claim to "their space" than listening to some challenging music played on a high level.

Cryptacize actually angered me with their meandering, boring, lazy songs. I left before the encore and feel like I didn't miss much.

Why didn't Sufjan play Town Hall and BAM? Dealing with an annoying crowd and trying to listen to his music is too much. No seats= no me at a sufjan show.

Posted by Anonymous | October 5, 2009 11:59 PM

11:59, you missed a great show.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:19 AM

this is kind of a dumb question, but was it me or did it sound like sufjan had a lisp tonight?

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 1:53 AM

@ 1:53am, Sufjan did indeed have a lisp. But it's nothing new, it's just more noticeable sometimes (especially on S's) :)

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 2:23 AM

yeah, it was very noticable on the s's. you could even hear it on certain songs when he was singing. I've heard him talk in interviews before and never noticed a lisp so I was really confused wondering if he always had it and i never noticed, if he just picked it up recently (lol), if he burned his tongue that morning...

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 10:18 AM

I thought this concert was very disappointing. I first saw Sufjan a few years ago at Town Hall and that was a mind blowingly beautiful show. Sufjan's music relies on precision and the overlapping of many sounds and melodies, and that is what makes it so great for me. The show at Bowery Ballroom was more of an edgy, rocking Sufjan, which I don't think suits his style. The drum machine thing was kinda cool, but I missed the massive meshing of sounds like there was at the Town Hall show, which featured about 20 musicians on stage if i remember correctly. Also, it is ridiculous that doors open at 730 and Sufjan isn't on until 10. On a sunday night i gotta get to bed, got work the next day. Wish he had a piano, and didnt go electric at all. Oh well.

Posted by Purdman Jr. | October 6, 2009 2:22 PM

dutch village

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 1:29 AM

11:59, you missed a great show.

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