September 28, 2005
Review: XO among the Illinoisemakers (aka Sufjan)
Last night a big hand came out from the sky and swept all the peoples of DC to the left or the right. On one side were the White Stripers who went to their show at Merriweather. On the other side were the Sufjan Stevens fans (spirit fingers now!) who sold out the 9:30 Club. I chose to go with Sufjan because 1) I like him better and 2) the meek shall inherit the Earth, right?
The show was really unlike any I have seen. The band wore the costumes seen above and did "cheers" for different Illinois towns throughout the show... places like Peoria and Decatur. It was straight out of Waiting For Guffman - I kept expecting Parker Posey to appear with pom poms, doing herkies. The band even stood between songs, like the picture above, in the "ready positions" with their arms behind their backs.
It is always great to hear one of your top ten favorite songs of the year performed IN that year and, in this case, he did a much more delicate version of "Chicago" than what you hear on the CD. I would have liked for the song to open up at the end, which it didn't, but it was lovely nonetheless. The album arrangements are incredibly layered and intricate, so this was a slightly cruder, but no less energetic, approximation of those songs. I had been skeptical that the crowd (verrry young) would be quiet for this show, but there was silence during his big ballads "Casimir Pulaski Day" and the song about John Wayne Gacy. I also loved their version of the song about the wasps and Sufjan's friend - the title is too long to write!
For the encore Sufjan came out alone in jeans and black T-shirt to do some other songs. A sweet 90 minutes. He is a super talent.