Last night’s broadcast of the 90th Academy Awards featured a performance of “Mystery of Love” by Indie hero Sufjan Stevens that had many comparing it to Elliott Smith’s unlikely fish-out-of-water appearance at the Oscars 20 years ago. Stevens played an abbreviated version of the Best Original Song nominee from Call Me By Your Name with a band of Indie all-stars, most of whom have participated in MusicNOW, the Cincinnati festival founded by The National’s Bryce Dessner in 2006.
Stevens participated in a couple of early MusicNOWs (in 2007 and 2008). His Oscars bandmates included Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), who was at MusicNOW in 2010, while Nickel Creek co-founder/host of the radio program Live From Here Chris Thile and his band Punch Brothers played the fest in 2016. The band also featured multi-instrumentalist Casey Foubert — who has worked with Stevens, My Brightest Diamond (another MusicNOWer) and The Shins, among many others — and drummer James McAlister, whose credits include last year’s Planetarium album project, a collaboration with Stevens, Dessner and (another MusicNOW vet!) Nico Muhly.
But wait! There’s more! The band also included Moses Sumney, who may not have played MusicNOW previously, but who is playing The National’s big Homecoming festival on the riverfront next month, which coincides with 2018’s MusicNOW festival.
Watch Stevens and Co.'s performance below; click here for more on this year's Homecoming and MusicNOW.