I've seen Sufjan before, it was extremely interesting--an experience that I can't really explain--but last night was different. Before I even say anything, let me reiterate the fact that I am sort of numbed by the greatness of Sufjan and a little put off by his pseudopsycho lyrics half the time. Like an Irvine Welsh novel, parts of Illinoise were just TOO MUCH to swallow in one bite. However, my love for Sufjan's tunes was renewed last night by his desire for perfection.
I feel like going to so many shows is fun because you get to see the band performing live similar versions of their recorded songs, but if you had never heard the band before it probably wouldn't have been that interesting. I think I can say that the opposite is true for only four bands that I've witnessed live: Sufjan, A Silver Mt. Zion, Mogwai, and Sigur Ros. Now, Sufjan is the odd man out in that list because he is the only one doing quasi-traditional music (the rest are postrockish). At one point he told this story about how he lived in a trailer when he was younger and one day his dad wanted to start a bonfire but the bonfire got so huge they had to call the fire dept... and somehow he segued into 'Seven Swans' which I guess was written about the event now that I pay more attention to the lyrics. But everyone was held rapt while he was speaking, he told it in such a dramatic fashion, and then he played the song. Ya know most shows sometimes by the end of it, even if I absolutely love the band, I just really can't wait to get outta there (I'll use Built to Spill as an example there). But Sufjan, I never wanted him to stop playing. He played a new song 'Majesty Snowbird' ???? It was fantastic! albeit off the wall! I really can't wait to hear that one in a studio version.
Basically what it comes down to is that Sufjan does a lot of ridiculous things on record, it seems impossible for him to match up to that in a live setting--- but he did! He really did--and beyond!