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PLANETARIUM send fans at Fox Theater Oakland on an emotional journey to the cosmos

PLANETARIUMBy Norm de Veyra //

PLANETARIUM with Thao Nguyen //
Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland
July 21st, 2017 //

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens, guitarist Bryce Dessner of The National, classical music composer Nico Muhly and drummer James McAlister brought the lush and eclectic sounds of their collaborative, celestial-themed project PLANETARIUM to a sold-out crowd of 2,800 fans at the Fox Theater Oakland last Friday on the final stop of their very brief tour that spanned only four dates.

PLANETARIUM’s music, which channels Stevens’ reflections on astronomy, science and even the intricacies of human consciousness, is a fusion of styles from all four band members that evokes feelings of unity. The group’s performance was accompanied by otherworldly visuals that filled the backdrop as it traversed the Solar System with quite a few emotionally charged songs inspired by the planets and other celestial bodies like “Neptune” and “Jupiter”.

PLANETARIUM

Stevens often spoke during the performance, charming the audience with his aforementioned reflections. The night closed out with a spirited tribute cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that felt like an appropriate and poignant cap to the night as the audience contemplated the cosmos and its place within it.

Opening the evening was Thao Nguyen, sans her usual support from Thao & the Get Down Stay Down. Nguyen’s blistering performance was rife with experimentation and playfulness as it featured tracks such as “Astonished Man” and “Slash/Burn” off her latest album A Man Alive, which was recorded at SF’s Tiny Telephone Studios. Produced by tUnE-yArDs founder and bandleader Merill Garbus, the album was released back in March via Ribbon Music and explores some darker and more personal territory as it relates to Nguyen’s relationship with her estranged father, unlike her earlier songwriting.

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