WEATHER »
Sufjan Stevens at the Arlington Theatre. (Oct. 24, 2015)

Paul Wellman

Sufjan Stevens at the Arlington Theatre. (Oct. 24, 2015)


Sufjan Stevens Gives Mesmerizing Show at Arlington Theatre

Singer/Songwriter Gives Emotional Performance


Listening to music is supposed to be an emotive experience, but it’s not often you have the chance to sit through a performance as introspective and heartbreaking as Sufjan Stevens’s. The indie folk singer starred at the Arlington Theatre on the evening of Saturday, October 24, with the latest stop on tour promoting his seventh studio album Carrie & Lowell — a record inspired by the loss of his mother, Carrie, in 2012.

It was Stevens first time playing in Santa Barbara, and although his music doesn’t readily lend itself to sing-along choruses or dialogue between the band and audience, it wasn’t hard to understand what emotions and thoughts Stevens wants to convey through his songs. A particularly heart-wrenching moment came at the end of “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross,” when he took a noticeable deep breath to steady himself — the song itself references his self-destructive behavior after his mother’s passing.

Stevens and his band have a tendency to lose themselves within the musical complexity of songs like “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” and “Vesuvius,” but by the encore it was clear that he was ready to let his guard down and open up in a different way. He expressed his appreciation for moments onstage when he can see the lights illuminating faces in the crowd. “To be singing songs of life and death…to feel the music and waveforms, it offers an exciting perspective. It’s encouraging…to feel the multiplicity in this room together.”

The band played its way through the entirety of Carrie & Lowell over the course of the night, a touching tribute to Sufjan’s mother and step-father with meditative songs like “Should Have Known Better,” “Eugene,” and “Fourth of July” — the last of which expresses a bleak sense of fatalism and ends with the musicians thoroughly “sticking it” to mortality.

The end result was a feeling of familiarity and a strong sense of catharsis. Losing a loved one can be a trying ordeal, but sometimes it can bring out the best in us, as it has with Stevens.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Gas Company Launches New Conservation Program

SoCalGas asks Californians to 'Dial It Down' through a high-demand alert.

Amgen Tour 2019 to Visit Santa Barbara

Stage Five of the arduous event will pass through county next May.

Volunteers Needed for Storm-Readiness Effort

County requests citizen help to collate and distribute information.

E-Scooters Banned in Goleta

City Council votes for an immediate but possibly temporary ban while pilot program is developed.

Truck Drivers, Family, and Friends Remember Santiago Perez Jr.

On Friday morning they filled the street near Our Lady of Sorrows.