Sufjan Stevens – Old National Centre

I’ve decided to keep this one brief because, honestly, I’m still processing. Saturday night was the third time I’ve seen Sufjan, and to expectation, it was considerably different than the two previous performances — a freewheeling Christmas show and the cabaret Age of Adz concert.

Touring in support of his latest, the somber, dream-like Carrie & Lowell, the set was melancholy and meditative, in line with the material. The first hour of the set, save the short keyboard intro Redford, was all new. It was immersive, at times sad, but always engaging. The second half included fan favorites like The Dress Looks Nice on You, Futile Devices, and show closer, Chicago.

Sufjan was fantastic — he always is. The sold out room was in his sway. But — and I may be the first to every make this comparison — I left the performance feeling the same way as when I last saw Swans: wrung out and in some sense bludgeoned. Swans beat you down with power and noise; Sufjan crushes you with feelings.

Proof the music means something when that happens. As I said, I’m still processing.