Last night, around 7 pm, I was working on the Take Solace web site, designing at a feverish pace when my good friend Joe Dorn called. “Dirk. I have an extra ticket to Sufjan Stevens at 8 pm tonight at the Pabst. Want to go?” “Sure”, I replied, “If you pick me up.” (It’s not my fault I can’t see at night.)
So off we went to the show. We picked up his friend Tim, ran some quick errands, and arrived at the Pabst Theater around 8:30. Each of us grabbed a $3 tall of Pabst (we were at the Pabst Theater you know, and plus PBR is pretty good, especially at those rates) and went in to find our 12th row seats.
I was pleasantly surprised by the opening band – My Brightest Diamond. We only caught the last 3 songs but they were simply awe-inspiring. What I wouldn’t give to have a string and brass section at my disposal. Shara Worden, the lead singer and composer, is totally at home in front of all that instrumentation and even comes in front of it all with her incredibly intense vocals. The song Golden Star has a point where the orchestra drops out and she belts out this high note that turns into an angst ridden screech that filled my heart with joy. If that sounds impossible you should get their new album Bring Me The Workhorse, which was released on August 22nd on Asthmatic Kitty Records. I picked up the CD last night for $10 and it is all good. I like every single song, which in this day and age is hard to find.
My Brightest Diamond combines really sweet beats with flowing violins over rock guitar lines with punchy vocals reminiscent of Fiona Apple and Andrew Bird. Needless to say I really enjoyed the show although I missed most of it.
Sufjan Stevens headlined after with a 17 piece band. Sufjan was dressed as a song bird and the orchestra was dressed as butterflies. I’m not sure where that came from but it was funny to watch them try to move around with these large wings attached to each of them, Sufjan’s being the largest. Sufjan broke up the set with quirky stories about his childhood between songs, like the time he was chased by a bird wasp at a summer camp. If you haven’t heard Sufjan Steven’s music it is very folkloric and includes big band like orchestrations that repeat and build, get quiet to allow for his airy vocals and then build again to climax the song.
The highlight of the night, in my mind, was My Brightest Diamond although that Sufjan was very very good. Incredibly, they both shared the backup band. I’m not sure on the mechanics of this, who’s band is who’s, but the band behind them was very talented. Shara Worden, of My Brightest Diamond, sang and played guitar and some odd percussion instruments behind Sufjan as well. In any case the shared group worked out well and I savored the experience and am grateful Mr. Dorn brought be along for the ride.