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Live - Sufjan Stevens, First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN -- September 18, 2005

Sufjan Stevens. Ah, what a man. I knew he was brilliant, but his concert on Sunday, September 18 at First Avenue was, oh, I don’t know, SPECTACULAR. Mr. Stevens, on his “Come On Feel the Illinoise!” tour, in support of his stellar album Illinois, came onstage with his band, this time around branded the Illinoisemakers, donning a full star-spangled banner uniform, complete with rainbow-colored suspenders and a Chicago Cubs hat (to reprezentz the Illinoiz, yo).

Through the opening song, I had a smile that I couldn’t wipe off of my face. They opened with a new arrangement, talking about all 50 states (as Illinois is only part two of his proposed 50 states, 50 albums project), and naturally, his mention of Minnesota got the biggest cheer. The Illinoisemakers, as you can see in the above photo, were decked out in Illinois cheerleader uniforms. This made for some most excellent cheers that they performed between songs. Damn, chicks with guitars and cheerleader uniforms are HOT!

Surprisingly, one of the highlights of the show was an incredibly beautiful new arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. One of the things I love about Sufjan is his absolute earnestness – it’s “hip” to be doing wacky things onstage, but beneath the cool-as-crap stage persona, you can tell he has a true passion for the folklore and history of America, and a true love for our country.

Other musical highlights included “Jacksonville”, “He Woke Me Up Again” (from Seven Swans) and “They Are Zombies! They Are Neighbors! They Have Come Back From The Dead! Run For Your Lives!! Ahhhhh!!!” (The third musical highlight partially based on song title alone.)

Near the end of the show, the band did a human pyramid. That’s right, a HUMAN FREAKING PYRAMID! This goes without any explanation as to why it is genius.

For an encore, a club full of Minnesotans chanted “ILL-I-NOIS! ILL-I-NOIS!” I’m certain that Mr. Stevens is the only man on the planet who could inspire a bunch of Minnesota natives to chant the home state of those FIBs themselves (Fucking Illinois Bastards). In fact, the concert (and album) actually makes me kinda like the state. Make me love Wisconsin like I love Illinois after listening to your songs, Sufjan, and you will be the most influential person on the planet.

In a year when a shitload of brilliant albums have come out (Wilderness by Wilderness, Elephant Eyelash by Why? Picaresque by The Decemberists, Underwater Cinematographer by The Most Serene Republic), Illinois is far and away the most brilliant of the year. I’ve listened to it about 10 more times since the concert, and each time I find something new and wonderful about it. Sufjan Stevens, I want you in a totally hetero way. Or whatever you’re into, really – I’ll do it for you.

Sufjan Stevens…I love you.

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  1. Blogger P. Arty | 2:10 AM |  

    I might never speak to you for that cut at Tegan and Sara. Especially since it was spoken by such a dog.

    Now that that's out of the way, excellent post. I'm sad that I missed him in Chicago, but what can you do? Madison isn't hypester enough for Sufjan.

    If you like Illinois after this album, and you don't like Wisconsin after the "upcoming" Wisconsin album, then you're nuts. How can you not like Wisconsin if you like Minnesota? They're the same state!

    Keep up the good work, Qualler...did you make it to Sigur Ros?

  2. Blogger qualler | 10:31 AM |  

    Hey, I had nothing to do with her thought bubble -- it just showed up above her head right as I was taking the picture.

    Minnesota and Wisconsin are totally not the same state. Minnesota has a bunch of lakes, whereas Wisconsin only has many lakes. Minnesota has a harsh winter, whereas Wisconsin only has a tough winter.

    I did not make it to Sigur Ros, but that bastard Chris did.

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