Long Performing Arts Center - Patio
In 2006, I posted about seeing Sufjan Stevens at the Paramount.
Earlier this week, I was fortunate to attend Sufjan Stevens’ performance in Austin at the Long Center.This was my first trip ever to the Long Center and it is gorgeous. I highly recommend going here for a show.
Sufjan’s performance this time around was raw compared to the put-togetherness of the last tour I witnessed. Don’t get me wrong, his performance is still polished – he’s a music-composing genius. But as he himself said during the performance, he has begun to experiment with machines, loop pedals, even playing with autotune (hilarious!) in combination with the usual horns, drums, and strings. His delicate, innocent voice was paired with dark, digital synths. It made me giddy to see that he was reaching into this electronic experimentation. The “Chicago” wunderkind told the audience that he was happy to share his cathartic “psychotherapy session” while he worked some things out during Impossible Soul: “…love, heartache and the Apocalypse.”
(The two dancers and (very-talented) backup singers, danced their butts off throughout the entire show. Sufjan himself broke out into half-choreographed, half-freestyle dance sesh during the dance jam part of Impossible Soul.)
Future City by Royal Robertson
What really cut me to the core during this performance, what begged my heartswell: The visuals during the show that were inspired by “outsider artist” and self-proclaimed prophet, Royal Robertson.
[There is something magical about those who have been deemed outsider artists. Many suffer from paranoid schizophrenia and therefore have reclusive lives that make their art inaccessible during their lifetimes and are revealed to us only after their deaths. I am struck much the same way by Henry Darger. Don’t EVEN get me started!]
Robertson said that he was visited by God driving a spaceship when he was fourteen years old. And while he drove his family and friends away because of his mental illness, he produced mesmerizing images of space, monsters, women, landscapes with a futuristic and comic-book quality. The pieces deal with his heartache, numerology, the cosmos, and the Apocalypse….
Sufjan Stevens’ new album Age of Adz was inspired in part, he said, by the art and story of Royal Robertson. Read Pitchfork’s writeup on Sufjan Steven’s Age of Adz tour.
Postscript: You can take a free listen to the album here.