Photo Credit: Ryan Muir
Describing the overall experience at Prospect Park this past Tuesday is pretty difficult. With the combination of dancing, musicianship, incredible visuals, and audacious costumes, the entire set was a blur of sound and light. Each piece was designed to compliment and blend with the rest, and, possibly with the exception of the dancing, every element was expertly planned, executed, and received. The show was designed to take the audience to another planet, and it’s goal was absolutely achieved.
The clear focus of the show was Sufjan’s newer material, and, excluding a few folk songs which were meant to “clear the air”, almost every number was beat-driven, dancable, and focused on the movement of the people on stage (easily done given the neon glowing attire of the performers). While I did miss hearing some of the more classic songs, the transition from new to old would have been an awkward one, and I’m grateful for how driving and consistent the show was.
Many of the images portrayed on the back screen were, just like the album, inspired by the life and art of Royal Robertson. A collage of animated space designs, futuristic creatures, and occasionally, Sufjan and others dancing, the video displayed for each song was merely an addition to the more impressive visuals created on stage. Although they weren’t entirely in synch with each other, the dancers to the side and behind Sufjan added a great deal to the overal balance and motif of the show. What really caught my attention, though, was the occasional use of an amazing 3D effect. Lasers were shone and refracted through an almost transparant screen that was lowered to the stage, creating a crazy, deep light visual. I can only imagine what that must be like when experienced in a pitch black theater.
Though many might dislike this comment, I have to say in all honesty that my favorite part of the show was the encore. While his new material is fantastic and theatrical, there’s something about the simplicity of “Concerning the UFO…” and “Casimir Pulaski Day” that strikes a much deeper chord. Regardless, the entire experience was amazing and easily one of the best shows I’ve been to in quite some time.
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