Creative License and Registration, please.
So perhaps I’m not as serious a Sufjan aficionado as I would like to think: I may or may not have mistaken his supporting act from Toronto for the man himself (to my defence I forgot my glasses that night and, at the extreme peril of my personal safety on vacation in North America, I still can’t tell the difference between the Canadian and American accents). Notwithstanding, if you’d asked me what I was expecting from Stevens, King of the Banjo, at his Sydney Festival gig, I can safely say that synthesized chants to ancient volcanos performed in thigh-hugging fluro would not have crossed my mind. Nor would an oversized auto-tuning helmet, producing a noise homogenous to what I imagine it would sound like if T Pain and that annoying dancing hamster they turned into a ringtone had a baby.
Judging by the random eruptions of laughter from alternating regions of the audience, promptly morphing into coughing fits once the perpetrator realised they were in fact witnessing a profound moment of artistic expression, my fellow spectators were equally surprised. Nevertheless, Sufjan still inspired a standing ovation and after years of being denied by prudish old women and their Galilean binoculars, the Opera House seats finally got some action from boogieing behinds. Thanks to a decade of dependably disarming melodies and haunting lyrics, Sufjan has earned himself a creative license stocked with more demerit points than a Supreme Court judge.
Surpassing the driver’s, gun and even the pen license on a scale of one to liberation, the creative license is a portal to social irreproachability. While the ordinary citizen who attempts a similar maneuver might be thrown in a straight jacket or sent to a government position in Tasmania, those in possession of a creative license can excrete into a can, sell it for its weight in gold, and be deemed sophisticated for doing so - as filthy (‘xcuse the pun) rich Italian artist Piero Manzoni knew only too well.
Our generation is particularly flippant in awarding creative licenses (see: Lady Gaga and her meat shoes). Perhaps we believe that, like shopping at recycled clothing markets and eating acai berries, listening to experimental this-might-be-awesome-but-pretty-sure-its-the-most-negligent-thing-since-the-“iSnack2.0” makes us better people; indeed, as Triple J ratings propel the station into the mainstream, the perpetual quest to achieve the divine status of “alternative” is being pursued more fiercely than ever; though most of us are still stuck on the question of how to be alternative from everyone else being alternative. We’ve all experienced that violent self-loathing in a musically geared conversation as we fight the urge to rattle-off a bunch of obscure bands composed of three men and a lesbian and a pretentious oxymoron in their name. But if we can’t all be artists with licenses for incivility, the next most virtuous thing is to appreciate them. And since that darned spinning woman just wouldn’t turn right for me, I guess I’m in for more Sufjan tickets next time he visits.