Friday, October 07, 2005

Sufjan Stevens

Last Wenesday I had the privelege to see an indie-rock god. This man is Sufjan Stevens and he absolutely blew me away. I saw Sufjan perform, at the TLA in Philly, with his travelling band known as the Illinoise Makers. See Sufjan is not your normal indie-rock visionary who creatively sings songs about love and lost love. Sufjan Stevens is two albums into a series of 50 albums, one concentrating on each state.

Sufjan started his journey in Michigan, the state he grew up in. With Greeting from Michigan: The Great Lakes State, Sufjan honed his craft of storytelling through imagery about Michigan. With nis newly released album, Illinois,
Sufjan perfects his mix of personal and historic storytelling. Sufjan tocuhes on such characters and places as Superman, Abraham Lincoln, The Great Chicago Fire and many more unforgettable tales.

At the beginning of the concert Sufjan and his band come out dressed as cheerleaders. As a recurring theme throughout the night the band and Sufjan will intro some of the songs through cheer. The cheerleading escalates to a point, where during a drum solo the rest of the band gets into a human period. While performing, Sufjan perfectly blends his gentle voice with poppy instrumentals which makes for such an amazing sound. At first I was skeptical about how Sufjan would be in performing because of all the complexities in the arrangements of his songs. But with an 8 person band backing him up, he is able to incorporate all of the random instruments played on the album (I couldn't even tell what most of them were).

All in all Sufjan was amazing. Check out this website, you can download 2 free songs off of the album as long as you are a member of Amazon. Definetly check it out. Also, I am going to see my favorite band tonight, Mae, so definetly expect a report next week. Have an awesome week guys. Peace Out.


Blogger kendro said...

First off, how do you say his first name? Suf-jan as it sounds or with an accent or what?! Love and lost love so many people sing about those things so its a nice relief to find people who find some other things to sing about. Some of the best songs tell stories and tales. Thats really cool how he is making an album for each state. That really gives the listener something to relate to if they are hearing songs about their own state! That concert sounded a little strange to me with the cheerleader theme. But i guess you had to be there to really understand how it was expressed. How do you hear about all these bands and performances?

October 08, 2005 5:55 PM  
Blogger nicole said...

Is Sufjan Stevens American, or does he have another ethnicity? You did post that he grew up in Michigan. Stevens seems like a common last name, but perhaps Sufjan is a stage name.
Also, is Sufjan a singer with musicians that usually travel with him, or are all the musicians (The Illinoise Makers) part of a band called Sufjan Stevens, similar to the Dave Matthews Band.
Have you listened to the Pennsylvania state CD? Are you able to relate to anything he says? I do hope that the New Jersey version (where I am from) does not refer to it as the toxic waste pit of America. I will not lie, I do not really understand what his songs are about and his cheerleading-themed concerts.
Also, before I forget to mention it, shortly after I posted about your Coheed and Cambria blog, I heard them on MTV 2! I was excited to have acutally heard something about them, and stayed tuned to the channel because you had said how much you enjoyed them, instead of turning the channel like I probably would have if I had not been reading your blog. So you are opening up my music mind Mike! According to your away message the other day, it seemed you enjoyed the concert and acutally met Mae? I am excited to hear about that next week!

October 08, 2005 8:54 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Sufjan is pronounced: Soof - yawn

His band travels with him all the time but the name of it changes depending on what album he has released. For the Michigan album they were called "The Michigan Militia".

Sufjan has only wrote albums on Michigan and Illinois, its rumored he plans on doing his next album about Rhode Island.

October 10, 2005 9:16 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Hey Mike. Again, I have never heard of this band before either. Actually, I am not sure I have ever listened to an Indy-Rock band, but it seems pretty cool. With the band you were just talking about, I think that is so cool that they are doing an album for each state. I wonder how Pennsylvania's will turn out. Anyway, good stuff. Also, I know you were super excited to see MAE, and I'm sure you had an absolute blast. That is so cool that you were able to go and experience that. Can't wait to hear all about it! Peace out til next time...

October 11, 2005 8:53 PM  
Blogger Samantha said...

Fifty albums, that’s a pretty big endeavor. Is he going to make multiple albums a year? I feel like it will be really difficult to remain creative. It is a pretty awesome idea though, telling stories and tales about every state. It sounded like they put on a great show! I love bands that get so involved in their show and make it a performance. Sometimes it can back fire though when they begin to concentrate more on their stage presence than their music. I was just wondering since your passion seems to be music if you happened to play any instruments, wrote or perhaps sang.

October 12, 2005 1:35 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

It sounds like Sufjan is pretty amazing live. I never heard of him before, but right after I read your blog about him, my good friend who is always telling me about new music asked me if I had heard of Sufjan. Apparently, he's a big fan as well. I think the idea of writing fifty albums is a huge undertaking and I hope that he is able to achieve his goal. I listened to a lot of his stuff on iTunes and I discovered that he also made two other albums aside from the fifty state concept. Out of all the songs that I listened to, I liked Chicago the best. His music is really mellow and he reminds me of Elliot Smith who I'm a big fan of.

October 18, 2005 6:46 PM  
Blogger bren said...

I have never heard of Sufjan before, but his music sounds amazing. I like the 50 states idea. I have never heard of anyone even remotely trying to do something like that. His music is definitely on my list of songs and bands to check out now. Someone who is as creative as he sounds must have good music backing him. Also, I judge many groups on the value of their performances more than the actual music. It sounds to me like Sufjan puts on a pretty amazing show. That fact alone gives him tons of credit in my book. So, I will definitely be giving his music a good shot. If the music is decent, I will definitely try to see Sufjan's act live. Have a great day and take care.


October 25, 2005 8:59 PM  
Blogger Mike Savino said...

I d/led a couple of their songs and they seem like a real chill band to listen to. I liked, "All Good Naysayers, Speak Up!" It has an unusual sound to it and the singer's voice is really nice to listen to. They seem like the type of band that would have been on the Garden State sountrack. That had a lot of similar bands that sounded like Sufjan. If you haven't heard the soundtrack yet, and this is a band you like, you would probably like it a lot. All in all, a good choice in bands. I like it.

November 21, 2005 6:12 PM  

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