Posted in music | pictures | tour dates on October 6, 2009

photos by Vincent Cornelli, words by Andrew Frisicano

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens played his second night at the Bowery Ballroom on Monday (10/5). Today (10/6) and Wednesday (10/7) at Music Hall of Williamsburg will be the final two shows of his current tour.

After wading through the lines of confused people outside and the waterlogged Bowery basement floor, I managed to settle in for the quiet opening song, "The Mistress Witch from McClure," executed with Sufjan on banjo and french horn accompaniment. Someone nearby got shushed a minute in, but things loosened up as the show progressed. Sufjan's on stage demeanor did a lot to liven things up; he cracked self-deprecating jokes throughout (a few times with post-song IDs of "That was [name of song] by Sufjan Stevens").

Like others, I spent the better part of 2005 and 2006 listening to Illinois - and those were the songs that got the most reaction. Unfortunately, "Come on! Feel the Illinoise!" (an "old one" according to Sufjan) was also the most unpolished. It was nice to hear, but the execution suffered due to a poor mix (too many vocals, not enough of the four horns, which never really lived up to their potential). Afterwards he admitted that they hadn't played it in a while, and apologized with a clean, majestic version of "Casimir Pulaski Day."

One thing I didn't expect was just how in your face the new material is. It brushes up against the rest of the stage show in a stark but not totally unwelcome way. The new tunes are broad psych-rockish opuses that expand elements of Sufjan's usual light-rock shuffle with proggy guitar solos, jazz fusion-y improv passages, drum and bass style beats and glitch-pop blips. They seem made for a live setting (opposed to his complex woodwind-oriented arrangements) and loaded with plenty of testosterone (or at least some, which is a big jump). After the first encore, "Chicago," Sufjan quipped that the tune was "a little boring" and closed with new track "There's Too Much Love," a synth-driven indie-pop gem at first that descends into psychedelic anarchy over its seven plus minutes.

Sufjan's band expanded and contracted throughout the night, maxing out at eleven members with added horns. Bryce Dessner played guitar on some songs, while backing vocals were provided by opener Cryptacize's Nedelle Torrisi and Rosie Thomas, who came out between the set and encore as Sheila Saputo, her dorky, stand-up comedian alter-ego, to read a fangirl ode to the dreaminess of Sufjan.

Speaking of Rosie, she appears at John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders show on October 7th at (Le) Poisson Rouge (after the Sufjan MHOW show I guess?). She'll also be at 92YTribeca on Saturday, October 10th to do an acoustic performance and Q&A after a screening of All the Way from Michigan Not Mars, a documentary that features her as well as "intimate live performances with fellow songwriters Sufjan Stevens and Denison Witmer...the film is a lyrical examination of Thomas' quest for an expression of truth and her unique brand of performance." Tickets are on sale. 92YTribeca also hosts three of the four upcoming NYC Osso Quartet/BQE screenings later in October.

All photos, the set list and all Rosie Thomas tour dates are below...

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Pictures & setlist from Night One, HERE.

Sufjan Stevens 10/5 Bowery Ballroom setlist (via)
The Mistress Witch from McClure
Impossible Soul*
All The Trees In The Field Will Clap Their Hands
Come On! Feel The Illinoise
Casimir Pulaski Day
All Delighted People*
Size too Small
The Dress Looks Nice on You
Age of Adz (Victoria?)*
Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head!

Neck brace fan-girl poetry
Chicago (Acoustic)
There's Too Much Love*

Rosie Thomas - 2009 Tour Dates
10/07/09 New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge *
10/08/09 Nashville, TN @ Belcourt Theater #
10/10/09 New York, NY @ 92Y Tribecca #
10/16/09 Grand Rapids, MI @ Calvin College #
* w/John Wesley Harding and His Band, The English UK, Tanya Donelly, Martha Plimpton, Patrick McGrath, Todd Barry, Rick Moody and Daniel Felsenfeld
# The show will feature a screening of her documentary () followed by an acoustic performance by



Comments (40)

what an enchanting night.

Posted by a virgin man | October 6, 2009 11:27 AM

he should just play the new stuff, like what Radiohead has done with every great new album they put out.

Posted by Anon | October 6, 2009 11:27 AM

What time did he go on?

Posted by Roman | October 6, 2009 11:34 AM

New stuff was terrible. An orgy of free form jazz and synth sounds. More like an experiment gone wrong. I'm all about him finding a new direction but I'm tired of every band thinking they need to delve into electronic to go that route. Hardly new.

At least he's not rushing out a half-hearted album without testing this stuff out first.

Posted by someone who was there last night | October 6, 2009 11:38 AM

new songs were awesome* - even if the first one sounded like a Flaming Lips B-side.

*the final song "Too much love?" was not good, and the comedy was subpar 90s rehash (was that Cheri Oteri?)

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 11:41 AM

who was the drunk friend-of-a-friend who shouted "Freebird"?

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 11:43 AM

wish we could have gotten a John Wayne Gacy encore instead of "neckbraces and thickglasses are funny! get it?" humor.

"im the period stain on your thigh?" I don't even think thats an original joke.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 11:45 AM

so let me get this straight... BV has coverage of 2 this Christian Rock dude's shows... but no coverage of any of the 3 amazing Bruce Springsteen shows that just happened?

Fuck this winged little shit. Why does anybody care about little Sufjan God Boy?

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 11:53 AM

just because
last night's show was amazing, except for one of the new songs they were all very good and take his Illinois sound a step further

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:00 PM

and bruce springsteen is your parents God boy and no longer creates relevant or original music (see Radio Nowhere rips of Jenny 867-5309)

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:02 PM

don't bring The Boss into this shit

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:07 PM

most people thought the spoken word comedy thing was the highlight of the show... new songs were alright, parts of it sounded like experimental jazz or something, alright i guess, not something i would ever play on my mp3 player though... i got tired from standing for so long though... sufjan is not a standing show artist.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:10 PM

12:02 -- that didn't make a bit of sense. Did you pass 7th grade English?

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:10 PM

Really liked the new songs except the long song in the middle of the set.
How many times can we hear Casimir Pulaski Day? Pretty tired of the same songs ever show so this was a nice change.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:18 PM

set times?

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:20 PM


Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 12:22 PM

set times:
Cryptacize 915ish
Sufjan 10/1015ish

Posted by vinny | October 6, 2009 12:32 PM

The reason the toilets weren't working is because I ate only KFC chicken skins before the show. I was on the toilet all night from that chicken. I thought I was gonna die. Apparently there was so much chicken skin in the system it just ruptured the insides.

Posted by EC | October 6, 2009 12:38 PM

I saw Bruce on Friday and Sufjan last night. Both were great shows. False dichotomy, people.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 1:01 PM

Holy crap. That's some impressive beard-growth, given that he was clean-shaven on Sunday night... :-)

Posted by andrew | October 6, 2009 1:10 PM

lol, for 24 hours i dont think its impressive. maybe its impressive when you're 18 i guess. but sufjan is probably early 30s by now. he only has light stubble in the picture anyway. you must be really young andrew.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 1:59 PM


Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 2:50 PM

Sufjan is Christian Rock?

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 4:53 PM

^^^ uh, yeah. For some reason indie kids like him, though.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 5:03 PM

^^uh, no. Just keep writing it enough though, and some people might believe it.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 5:08 PM

I was completely offput by this concert. I'm hearing a lot about how charmingly self-deprecating he was, but it freaked me out to see how much he obviously disliked his old material. His new stuff is great, and I wish he would have played more of it rather than slog through his older hits in quotation marks.

Posted by Jimmy | October 6, 2009 6:21 PM

i am a big sufjan fan, but i was pretty disappointed by the show. maybe not disappointed but underwhelmed. with so many people on stage, one would think the sound would be more full. sufjan was relatively charming, but i kind of got bored. i went in feeling so fortunate to get to see him in a 500 person venue and almost left early.

11:43: i was walking to grand ave station after the show and the person behind me was bragging about being the one to yell freebird.

also, spoiler! they released a ton of tickets at 9:30 last night. i don't know if that'll happen with the change in venue, but a ton of people got by just hanging around the door til then.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 6:47 PM

hey 6:47pm, in what form were the just released tickets? (physical or just pay-and-go thru?)

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 7:26 PM

7:26, if mhow is being as strict as bowery, there were no physical tickets at any point in time. whoever had "paid the entrance fee" when the show when on sale this summer had a name on a list (which i had done) and i had to wait for my plus 1 to arrive to enter with me. all i know is security was telling everyone who wanted to go to the show to come back at 9:30. i'm assuming no tickets were ever issued. just a hand stamp.
but who knows what's going on in wburg.

Posted by Anonymous | October 6, 2009 11:25 PM

Shitty setlist. Play "They Are Night Zombies", "Majesty, Snowbird", "You Are The Blood", "The Man of Metropolis..."

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 12:56 AM

In fact, I saw some people get in with physical tickets (around 10:15) and was pretty puzzled.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 2:56 AM

i had will call tickets, went to window at 9:55ish, and they handed me a physical ticket

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 9:17 AM

Bowery issues no physical tickets, MHOW does. Different venues, different strokes.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 9:26 AM

Sufjan I thought was lovely as always at last nite's show. Maybe the real issue was all the teenagers they let in apparently who don't understand what good etiquette at a concert is. There were rude couples talking, everyone was shouting out songs instead of just leaving Sufjan to choose his own lineup, in which he's obviously capable. I was just offput by the ignorance of the fans, and it left me frustated not to be able to enjoy the actual show as much as I should have....

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 11:15 AM

stop worrying about everybody else around you and just enjoy the music, i was there and although there were some rude people, by no means did it hurt my enjoyment of the show.....stop worrying about everybody around you.....also its a f*cking concert, people should be hooting and hollering a little bit, c'mon

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 11:21 AM

Anybody got the setlist from last nite?

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 11:21 AM

photographer needs to stop playing around with the dynamic range and all that stuff in photoshop. pics look fake.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 5:35 PM

@| October 7, 2009 11:15 AM no dude you get the same deal with adults.

Posted by Anonymous | October 7, 2009 8:28 PM

I really enjoyed the "new" material as well. People are bent on the sound that made him popular, ala Michigan & Illinois. Much of his early music was electronic, experimental and, in my humble opinion, extremely interesting.

Posted by Anonymous | October 8, 2009 12:04 PM

arrr, stop it

Posted by eastpak | March 24, 2010 12:43 PM

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