Photos: Sufjan Stevens Unites The Fox Theater With a Night of Music and Remembrance


Sufjan Stevens shared a unifying performance with a sold out Fox Theater on June 5th in Oakland. The focus of the evening was his album Carrie & Lowell, in which Stevens explores feelings of love, abandonment, and loss. These themes all revolve around the death of his estranged mother. Emotions were amplified as home movies of a mother and son were projected onto screens that resembled windows of a church.

Stevens brought up the word “sharing” multiple times during a mid-show speech. He questioned our natural tendency to isolate ourselves when facing grief. We all have a shared understanding of grief, and tapping into that can create a sense of community, where we can heal as a whole. Through Stevens’ songs and words, the audience at the Fox Theater was invited to take part in the grieving process as a community of empathy.

At times, during his gorgeous 23 song set, Stevens stood alone under a single spotlight, singing for the loved ones he has lost. Other times, lights and immense noise bombarded the audience, making the show a full body experience. During his song, “Fourth of July,” the line “we’re all gonna die” was repeated as lights flashed onto the passionately attentive crowd. This was a unifying, rather than morbid experience. The sound and force of the performance vibrated the entire Fox Theater as tears rolled down faces in the audience. “We have all lost many things and we all continue to share in each others’ suffering,” Stevens said. We were there that night remembering together.

Setlist ::

Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)
Death With Dignity
Should Have Known Better
Drawn to the Blood
All of Me Wants All of You
John My Beloved
The Only Thing
Fourth of July
No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross
Carrie & Lowell
The Owl and the Tanager
In the Devil’s Territory
For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti
The Dress Looks Nice on You
Futile Devices
To Be Alone With You
Blue Bucket of Gold (extended)

Encore ::

Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
Casimir Pulaski Day
The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!

Photos by Leticia Molina