It’s funny, in a way: one of my favorite albums of all time, ( ) by Sigur Ros, is quite serene and ethereal at times…so much so that people often forget the climax moments that punctuate the latter parts of several songs.
Those in attendance Tuesday night at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion couldn’t help but be reminded of the explosive elements of Sigur Ros.
Jonsi, Georg, and Orri, along with a full complement of vocal, string, and percussion performers, dropped two hours’ worth of gorgeous power on our ears, striking a good balance of the back catalog along with a taste of what’s ahead (or recently released) in 2013. The band understands its suitability for visual representation, as evidenced by the stunning, fantastical, and sometimes bizarre content displayed on the widescreen backdrop behind the band (and during the first couple of songs, a sheer curtain that surrounded the stage).
I’m not sure what to praise first, as there is no shortage of positives that came from this show, one of the greatest live music experiences of my life. Jonsi’s strong vocal work? The dude held a note for damn near an hour (wish I would have actually timed it) during “Festival” toward the end of the main set. His voice is as vital an instrument as his bowed guitar, and it was strong all night long, piercing through the bluster with its falsetto majesty while also dialing it back to match the tender moments of “Fljotavik” and “Vaka.”
How about that the new songs (three from the upcoming summer album, Kveikur; one from the recently released Brennisteinn EP) are absolutely stunning? I spent many of the 24 hours after the show making a deep bass-thump sound (something like “DUHHNNNNNN!”) over and over again, as “Brennisteinn” got lodged in my head, in much the same way that Gotye song ear-wormed its way into Travis while eating at Busy Burger. (“Wow that was one juicy burger!”)
In fact, the main takeaway I had after this night: Sigur Ros rocks so much harder than so-called “hard rock.” As each song reached its conclusion, Orri was killing the drums, Georg was pounding or plucking away at his bass, and Jonsi was attacking his guitar with his bow with the mania of a deranged lunatic (yet with amazing precision).
The aforementioned hopping across the back catalog was great. Four songs from Takk…, three songs from ( ), two from Agaetis Byrjun, two from Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust, and one from Valtari…a great mix. I didn’t hear everything I love, but that would have required at least another hour. For a two-hour show, they hit a great deal of the highlights.
After a two-song encore consisting of “Glosoli” and the best song from the catalog, “Popplagio” (or “Untitled 8”), the band graciously came out and took a bow for the adoring crowd. It was cool to see the big smiles on their faces; undoubtedly there were thousands of smiles (and cheers and whatever else) sent in their direction.
The show wasn’t perfect, but through no fault of Sigur Ros:
- Oneohtrix Point Never was boring as shit.
- Beer was $8 per Solo cup; $9 if you wanted an “import” (read: good) beer. I had zero.
- I swear the same douchebag couple that stood near us at the Portishead show at the Aragon back in 2011 was standing next to us at this show. Making a show of getting high and making out and what not. Why not buy/rent one of the Sigur Ros concert DVDs and fuck on your living room floor in front of the TV?
- Signs outside the venue made it quite clear that you could not bring in, among other things, “sticks/spikes.” Styx, that I can understand. But sticks? PUSSYFICATION OF ‘MURICA
Also, word on the street is that The Playpen on Mannheim is not the place to go for after-show entertainment. We heeded that advice.
And to end this part on a positive note, we saw Blue Pants, who has to be related to the infamous Red Pants, after the show. Wowzers.
Oh, and the night before…
Todd and I took in the kickoff concert for this year’s Mission Creek Festival. Ducktails, featuring Real Estate Guy (I’m too lazy to see which Real Estate member it is), topped a three-band bill before a sold-out* crowd at the Mill.
* Well, it was a free show, so “sold out” might seem a little loose with the language. But you did have to RSVP to get on a guest list, and that filled up, so I guess you could say standing-room-only. Also, there was free pizza.
Ducktails provided a solid, professional set. Groovy tunes, and Real Estate Guy (I know, I should open a new browser window and Google his name) seemed to be enjoying the show too. Aside from me spilling half a glass of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, it was a good time. Here’s “Ivy Covered House”:
One opening act fell into the same category as Oneohtrix Point Never, in that it was one dude just sort of doing his own thing up there with button pushing. It was a little more elaborate than OPN, but that doesn’t mean it was any good. The other opener reminded me of James Chance and the Contortions minus the brass…and that actually is sort of an okay thing. If you are not familiar with James Chance, um, here:
The MoSS? Pit is growing for the April 27 Best Coast show…maybe we’ll see you in there.