Thoughts On: Sufjan Stevens Christmas Spectacular
Irony and kitsch, like drinking, should be done in moderation. And only by those can pull it off. Garden variety irony is as annoying as the sloppy drunk, and this thesis was proven in spades by the Sufjan Stevens Christmas show at Mill City Nights on Wednesday evening. The show was uneven, ranging from the kind of quirky brilliance that Stevens does so well juxtaposed with annoying sing-alongs where the bros in “ugly” sweaters were
singing yelling the words to songs like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Silent Night.”
I am of the mind that Stevens is one of the best songwriters of this generation, so his off-kilter take on Christmas songs, focusing on broken hearts and broken families, are basically the only Christmas songs that are palatable to me. Ranging from the keyboard to banjo to just dancing around like a goofball, it was captivating seeing Stevens and band perform his wildly original songs. The wheels fell off for me when they spun the Christmas song wheel to have the crowd sing along. I will readily admit I am a scrooge, and will admit I may be in the minority, but I don’t go to shows to sing along when there is a singular talent like Sufjan Stevens on stage. At karaoke? Sure. Drunkenly at 2am bar close? Fine. When there is an artist with enough outstanding material to play for an entire day and not have to play one dud song? Not so much.
In the end, this show was clearly not geared for someone like me, but it still has moments of brilliance. Sufjan can pull off the weird and eccentric, but he is Sufjan Stevens and the sold out crowd at Mill City Nights, alas, is not. Stevens talent is pretty much beyond reproach to me, but I think he let his creative side get the better of him on this occasion, making what could have been an amazing show into one that was an uneven affair at best. How is that for a lump of coal in your stocking?