Sufjan Stevens Show Review

On Saturday, October 3, Sufjan Stevens played to a sold out crowd at Portland’s Port City Music Hall. Review by Jenna Quartararo.

“It’s pretty punk rock up here singing ‘dadada’, ” noted Sufjan Stevens at his sold out show at the Port City Music Hall Saturday night. “They put this barrier up here like you guys are gonna stage dive. It makes me feel pretty punk rock.”

The sold out show at Port City Music Hall Saturday night was described by Sufjan Stevens to be a live workshop of sorts, an opportunity to try out new material on an actual audience. The band will be on the road only a couple of weeks, hitting clubs of a smaller scale.

Cryptacize opened that night, a poppy-60’s sounding band from L.A. that everyone except for that one girl in the black lipstick seemed into. The songs were simple and sweet, but at times the multiple changes in tempo became frustrating, and lyrics such as “We’re all in a cosmic sing-a-long” were a bit too cute (and failed to spark a sing-a-long).

Sufjan was greeted with a huge round of applause as he took the stage. “The Mistress Witch From McClure” started things off and despite being described as a live workshop for new material, the set offered a nice balance of older tunes as well. Songs such as “To Be Alone With You” and “Casimir Pulaski Day” even managed to bring a few exceptionally emotional fans to tears.

The only part of the set that didn’t go over well was when Sufjan let on to his lack of geography knowledge growing up as he commented, “I always thought Maine was part of Canada.” A few boos later and he was back to banjo and trumpet and all was forgiven.

The new material was certainly an experimentation, with “The Age of Adz” (pronounced odds) going on for over 8 minutes and sounding muddled and space agey, filled with (perhaps too much) reverb.

Sufjan was most statisfying when he stuck to what he does best, simple melodies back by only a banjo, a trumpet and at times both. One girl spoke for all at the end of the evening when said in the most grateful tone, “We love you. Thank you for coming to Portland.”

Jenna Quartararo is the Portland editor of the Deli Magazine New England.