October 24th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Halloween is just around the corner. How better to celebrate the ghoulish occasion than with a new Sufjan Stevens Christmas clay-mation video for “Mr. Frosty Man,” a fast and furious tableau featuring a renegade snowman’s battle against flesh eating zombies.
It’s a veritable Christmas bloodbath (made especially not for children) by the infamous clay-mation master Lee Hardcastle, displaying all the gore of a classic horror flick: zombies interrupt an otherwise normal family Christmas dinner but are thwarted by a rebel snowman wielding a chainsaw, a shotgun, and chip off his shoulder. Children (and spoilers) beware: Mommy gets mauled under the mistletoe and Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick gets a hard-knock lesson in weight loss, but, rest assured, Mr. Frosty Man doesn’t go down without a fight. He’s a real American Christmas hero!
Lee Hardcastle is the master animator behind such cult favorites as “Chainsaw Babe,” “Hamster Hell,” “The Exorcist (Done in 60 Seconds)” and “Pingu’s THE THING,” which reenacts John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece using Pingu characters. (For stateside readers, Pingu is sort of like the British version of Gumby, but as a penguin). Not for the faint of heart, Lee’s DIY animation is a gruesome sight to behold: unforgiving and unforgettable, heavy on gore and gags, and quick to the punch (his “Done in 60 seconds” series also tackles Hostel, Shaun of the Dead, and The Evil Dead).
Sufjan’s “Mr. Frosty Man” is a garage-rock parody appearing on the forthcoming Silver & Gold (from the “I Am Santa’s Helper” EP) about a disenchanted thug snowman, partly inspired by Coolio, Mister Softee, Frosty the Snowman, and Bruce Campbell.
Revel in the scene of carnage here.
PS: Tickets are still available for some of Sufjan’s upcoming Christmas shows. See availability and buy links here.
[youtube width=”542″ height=”305″]http://youtu.be/fDDAybCe1uI[/youtube]
October 9th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Sufjan Stevens will jingle-jangle his way across America, bringing yuletide cheer to your local music club, sharing reverent hymns and pop carols from his upcoming Christmas album Silver & Gold. “The Sirfjam Stephanapolous Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant Variety Show Disaster” will be a tragic-comedic feast for the ears and eyes. Sufjan will be joined by a 5-piece band (including Rosie Thomas, Nedelle Torrisi, Casey Foubert, James McAlister, and Ben Lanz) playing all the hits from both Christmas box sets. Send us your song requests!
All Grinches be forewarned: the show will consist entirely of Christmas music, inviting audience participation. Be prepared to sing along with bawdy bravura! Song sheets will be provided. There should be plenty of low-production props and gags, dollar-store giveaways, inflatable unicorns, cheap confetti, make-shift costumes, and Gloria in excelsis deo. Wear a santa hat, bring a flask (and a friend) and join the Sufjan Christmas Spectacular Sing-a-long in drunken revelry.
Extra-special guest Sheila Saputo—the hottest ticket from Gary, Indiana—will be opening all dates with her indelible ice-breaking pizzazz.
Twenty-four dates in less than 30 days, including Saxapahaw (Home of the Christmas Market!), Chattanooga (Deck the Ruby Falls!), Oxford (Ride the Christmas Double Decker Bus!), Missoula (Mother Nature’s Christmas Tree!), Providence (See Santa arrive at Bowen’s Wharf Christmas Tree Lighting!), and New York City (SantaCon 2012!).
Check your venue for availability.
Note on Bowery show in NYC: Due to legalities with the State of New York, the Sufjan Stevens show will not go on-sale until December 19th, two days before the show. The goal was to stop scalpers from getting ahold of the tickets by making tickets available only through will call. Unfortunately, state law prohibits paperless shows and making this on-sale two days before the Sufjan show was the best solution. Thank you for understanding as we try to provide an equal buying opportunity for all fans. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience this has caused anyone.
October 8th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Many thanks to those who ventured uptown to the modernist caverns of Lincoln Center to partake of the new ballet Year of the Rabbit by Justin Peck. The Friday premiere had a fun and feisty vibe (six curtain calls). Mike Atkinson did some fierce wrangling with the orchestra. And the dancers were heroic. Congrats to all. There’s one more performance this Saturday, Oct. 13. Student rush tickets ($20) are available on the day of the show, while supplies last. See you there.
October 2nd, 2012 , by John Beeler
Happy Holidays! On November 13, 2012, Asthmatic Kitty will release (another!) Christmas box-set extravaganza by Sufjan Stevens—Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10, a compilation of 5 EPs recorded between 2006 and 2010.
Expanding on the tradition of the first box-set (Songs for Christmas, Vols. 1-5 from 2006), Silver & Gold is a generous document of five more years of holly-jolly jubilee undertaken by Sufjan and his various musical cohorts. Originally intended as gifts for family and friends, these musical snapshots have been re-mixed and re-assembled in an exquisitely-designed gift box containing all the Yuletide pleasures money can buy: Christmas stickers, temporary tattoos, lyric sheets and chord charts, a paper ornament, an apocalyptic pull-out poster, photos, illustrations, and extensive liner notes—a veritable Christmas feast for the eyes and ears.
The album features collaborations with a running line-up of friends and musical peers, including Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Cat Martino (Sufjan’s right-hand woman on all things Age of Adz), Sebastian Krueger (Inlets), Gabriel Kahane, Vesper Stamper, and members of Danielson (Daniel, Elin, Lilly, and Ida). Sufjan’s indelible aesthetic maintains the album’s center of gravity, resulting in an abundant compilation (nearly 60 tracks) that investigates the canon of devotional hymns and holiday pop songs with reckless abandon (totaling nearly three hours of music).
Silver & Gold will be available in digital download, and as a CD box-set containing:
1. Five CD EPs (Gloria, I Am Santa’s Helper, Christmas Infinity Voyage, Let It Snow, Christmas Unicorn)
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos (non-toxic & safe for children)
4. A paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)
5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster
6. Song lyrics and chord charts (sing along with your friends and enemies)
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)
8. Extensive liner notes (essays by Sufjan Stevens and Pastor Vito Aiuto)
Silver & Gold will be available in a big and beautiful, limited-edition LP gift-box containing the following (due to elaborate manufacturing, release date pending):
1. Five EPs on 6 vinyl discs
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos
4. A paper ornament
5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster
6. A 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions
7. A Christmas coloring book
8. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design
9. Extensive liner notes
Both the CD and vinyl boxset will be available at your local record store.
Read more info about the boxset here.
You can also preorder a special version of the Limited Edition Boxset, which will include some extra holiday gifts shipped before Christmas. Do that on Bandcamp here (available to US/Canada/EU subscribers only please).
September 19th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Selections from Sufjan Stevens’ electronic album “Enjoy Your Rabbit” are featured in a new ballet by up-and-coming choreographer Justin Peck. “Year of the Rabbit” will premiere Oct. 5 at New York City Ballet, programmed with new works by Benjamin Millepied (“Black Swan”) and Christopher Wheeldon (The Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet). Conductor and arranger Michael Atkinson has expanded the quartet adaptations of this music from Osso’s “Run Rabbit Run” for string orchestra. Selections for this non-narrative ballet for 18 dancers will include Year of the Ox, Rabbit, Tiger, Rooster, Dragon Boar, and The Lord. There will be two matinees on Oct. 6 & 7 and a final evening performance on Oct. 13. The ballet will also appear in the winter season next year (January 29 & 30 and February 1 & 2). Tickets are available from the NY City Ballet website.
Sufjan also joins Peck and Aktinson for the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series on Sept. 23 & 24 (at 7:30) in the Guggenheim Theater, where a string quartet will play excerpts from the ballet, with principal dancers performing. Participants will also discuss the odd evolution of Sufjan’s electronic hobby project- composed and recorded in an apartment closet- from the drum machine to the ballet theater. Tickets are no longer available for this event (the theater only seats 285) but the Guggenheim website has a link for live streaming.
You can read about Justin’s previous ballet “In Creases” from the New York Times review here, and learn more about this young dancer/choreographer’s work with the city ballet here has a link for live streaming.
March 22nd, 2012 , by John Beeler
Sufjan Stevens is collaborating with good friends/old haunts Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly to create a song-cycle loosely based on the planets. The trio will be performing their work in just a few select venues, accompanied by a trombone choir, string quartet, and drums/percussion/drum machine (played by the indefatigable James McAlister). Selections from the song-cycle will be “live workshopped” at Music Now festival in Cincinnati on March 30. Official performances are scheduled in Eindhoven, Amsterdam, London, and Sydney. More details here. Performances in Europe will be preceded by short string quartet works by each collaborator, including two selections from Sufjan’s Run Rabbit Run project.
No other performances for this project have been scheduled and all dates are sold out except Amsterdam, April 8th. Last chance to see cosmic history happen here.
October 25th, 2011 , by John Beeler
Beyond This Place is a powerful new film about fatherhood and forgiveness directed by Kaleo La Belle. The film follows Kaleo as he connects with his estranged and perpetually-stoned father on a 500-mile bicycle tour of the Pacific Northwest. It’s currently screening in select theaters across the US. More info here.
Listen and download to the title track from the score, by Sufjan, Ray, and Vesper:
July 19th, 2011 , by John Beeler
Precious stones abound! Sufjan has recruited two diamond acts to open his shows for Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park. The regal and righteous My Brightest Diamond will open August 2 while the glamorous dance-pop Diamond Rings will open August 3. Add these two musical gemstones to Sufjan’s diamond disco helmet (pictured above) and you get a Triple Diamond Threat! Crystal Power Healing Pop Sensation!
These two shows also mark the grand finale of the Age of Adz tour, a pop-theatrical pageant that has spanned time–zones, political boundaries, and language barriers with its eye-candy choreography (fearlessly executed by back-up singers Cat Martino and Nedelle Torrisi) and vivacious video display (by the indefatigable Deborah Johnson, whose work for the show renders the art of Royal Robertson in fantastic animation). Did we mention double drummers, an LED light extravaganza, and kabuki streamers?
The final shows will expand the band to include woodwinds and will feature two more dancers (including choreographer Jessica Dessner). More is more! Bring Your Magic 8 Ball. Wear Your Dance Pants.
My Brightest Diamond just announced a brand new album due in October (info here), and Diamond Rings is still abuzz from the astounding success of his 2010 debut Special Affection.
Editor’s Note–we’ve just been notified by park officials: aforementioned balloons and confetti (and other perishables) are strictly prohibited on park property (it’s bad for the environment, understandably). But the production team is frantically scheming to bring party vibes by any means possible. Virtual Balloon Drop? Edible Confetti? Heat Lightning? Please, God, Give Us A Double Rainbow? As for the rest of us: Bring Your Magic 8 Ball!
Remember, this is a benefit show. Ticket sales ensure that most of the other shows remain free of charge. Bring a friend, bring an open mind, and find out why Gothamist named Celebrate Brooklyn “The #1 Reason Why Brooklyn Lives Up to the Hype.”
August 2 is sold out, but tickets are still available for August 3 here.
July 7th, 2011 , by John Beeler
You might recognize the art in the Sufjan-made stop-motion video above; it comes from Prophet Royal Robertson, who inspired not only Sufjan's The Age of Adz but also the documentary film MAKE. MAKE is available now on DVD for $15 here.
Sufjan is also playing one last big Adz show on August 2nd and 3rd in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. In addition to neon gaffe tape (bring it if you got it!), some non-balloon non-confetti partying devices, x-treme dancing, and sweat, expect to see some of projectionist Deborah Johnson's brilliant work at the show (ie. this amazing bit).
Show is general admission and standing room only (stand up if you love standing!). Bring a good 'tude and neon, because you can't Celebrate Brooklyn with a frown. Besides Celebrate Broolyn! is the number one reason Brooklyn lives up to the hype. Believe the hype. Tickets for the show are here.