Suf­jan Stevens brings Christ­mas and more to Austin

Show in­cludes ka­zoos, sin­ga­long and con­fetti.

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - By Luke Quin­ton Spe­cial to the amer­i­can-states­man conTRIBUTED photo by arnold Wells

Decked out in a rein­deer-antlered hat dan­gling with tin­sel, Suf­jan Stevens led over a thou­sand peo­ple in a Christ­mas sin­ga­long that took turns be­ing ironic and touch­ing.

Be­hind the band was a very large, multi-col­ored wheel, painted with the names of Christ­mas songs. Stevens taught the crowd to shout “The wheel ... of ... Christ­mas!” when it was time to spin for a new carol to be cho­sen.

Stevens’ new re­lease “Sil­ver & Gold” is his sec­ond box set of Christ­mas mu­sic in re­cent years — the man is pro­liffc — ffve new discs of eclec­ti­cally ar­ranged hol­i­day clas­sics, along­side orig­i­nals that re­flect on Stevens’ more con­flicted feel­ings about the sea­son.

At Emo’s on Satur­day, Stevens and his band of merry-mak­ers were in ffne form. “Christmess Hym­nals” were passed out to il­lu­mi­nate the verses no one re­mem­bers. Some­one with a uni-

corn head came on­stage to spin the wheel, then the crowd, many dressed in Santa hats, sang earnest ren­di­tions of carols such as “O Holy Night.”

“That’s more of a Len­ten hymn,” Stevens quipped at one point. “But who’s keep­ing track here?”

Some carols were played for laughs. Ka­zoos sang out “Auld Lang Syne,” and opener Sheila Sa­puto (singer Rosie Thomas’ al­ter ego) sang out ridicu­lously high pitched back­ing vo­cals.

In the qui­eter solo mo­ments, the crowd’s lesser devo­tees couldn’t help them­selves from jaw­ing loudly, pop­ping the prover­bial Bal­loon of To­geth­er­ness. But by the end of the night this seemed to sub­side, as the crowd was won over by its own singing.

The evening’s irony came to a cli­mac­tic ff­nale with “Christ­mas Uni­corn,” which rails mer­ci­lessly against the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Christ­mas. Con­fetti, big red bal­loons and pink blow-up uni­corns bounced on top of the crowd.

Then Stevens re­turned for an en­core and put the Christ­mas por­tion to bed. As he sang out the open­ing verses of “Con­cern­ing The UFO Sight­ing...” the crowd be­gan spon­ta­neously singing along, fflling the room with a sin­gle, sin­cere voice.

When Stevens sang his most fa­mous songs, “Chicago” and “Casimir Pu­laski Day,” it felt at ffrst like pan­der­ing — un­til I re­al­ized what it really was: songs ev­ery­body could sing.

“The voice is a sa­cred in­stru­ment,” Stevens said, let­ting his guard down. Whether your singing was drunken or de­vout, “Thanks for rais­ing your voices in uni­son.”

In that moment, it seemed he was won over, too.

Suf­jan Stevens brought mu­sic from his new hol­i­day col­lec­tion “Sil­ver and Gold” to Emo’s on Satur­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.