“Sing lustily and with good courage. Be aware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, or more ashamed fo its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.”
This quote from John Wesley’s Select Hymns, and a drawing of a Christmas Unicorn adorned the covers of the “CHRISTMESS” song booklets handed out to audience members who excitedly entered the crowded Fonda Theatre last night. The stage was covered in blow-up Santas and unicorns, as well as still tagged tinsel, a tree and a smoking angel named “Evangelina Jolie.”
Sheila Saputo (the alias of Sufjan collaborator Rosie Thomas) opened the night with jokes about getting a restraining order from Santa and making out with Sufjan the previous evening, but she was just a small fraction of the entertaining characters to perform that evening. Sufjan’s backing band included a Skeletron wearing a “Sufjan Santa” hat on drums, a Superman chicken and a hipster Santa playing guitars and bass, zombie nun on keys, Christina The Christmas Tree spinning the Wheel Of Christmas to pick the songs during the sing-a-long portion of the show, and Rosie Thomas herself dressed as a badass snow-woman.
Rosie and Sufjan threw inflatable Santas and unicorns into the audience throughout the show as gifts, as well as pieces of tinsel and confetti. They also brought a few spiffy costumed audience members onto the stage to spin the wheel of Christmas and passed microphones around the crowd during the group sing alongs.
Sufjan ended the initial set with a rendition of “Christmas Unicorn,” at which point he put on a giant bike helmet, adorned with a unicorn horn and feather mane, as well as balloon wings on his arms. Halfway through the song the audience was bombarded with white confetti and giant red balloons.
For his encore Sufjan took a break from the holiday songs, which he’d been playing for two hours at that point, and performed some hits off Illinois (including “John Wayne Gacy Jr.,” and “Casimir Pulaski Day”) as the crowd tried to get all the confetti off.