2005_08_artssufjan.gifGothamist loves Sufjan Stevens. We think Illinois is perhaps the best album of 2005 and that he is one of the finest songwriters of our generation. So maybe we just had too many expectations for one of our favorites. Or maybe it was too many margaritas at Festival while waiting for the (awfully late) 11:45 start time to come around. Hate to say it, but we were rather disappointed by Saturday night's show.

There was nothing wrong with the band. The songs sounded great. Everybody on stage was perfectly adorable, all dressed up in their Illinois Cheerleader uniforms. Sufjan was his usual charming, witty self. The crowd was polite and seemed excited to be there. So what was wrong?

Quite simply, this is not the kind of music we can appreciate while standing in a crowded club until one in the morning. The pep-rally theatrics were an amusing sideshow, but once the actual music started, there was hardly anything that made these songs stand out live from what we could have gotten out of listening to the CD at home. Give us a lawn to lay on or a comfortable theatre seat to sit in and we would have been in heaven just to be listening to his music in the first place. But for songs this orchestral and serene, it was not the proper environment. Bowery is one of the city’s best venues, but on this night, for this artist, it acted as more of a hindrance to us enjoying ourselves than anything else. What should have been a peaceful evening left us antsy and uncomfortable by the end of the set.

Sufjan will be back in October to perform at Symphony Space and we will hopefully revisit him then at what should be a far more appropriate venue. Until then, we’ll still listen to Illinois every day and eagerly anticipate hearing which state he’ll choose to sing about next.