Sunday night, I witnessed Sigur Ros live for the first time. Before I go any further into detail, let me preface this by saying that I’ve seen a ton of shows, in all sorts of places, venues, and settings. Everyone from friends to idols. Thanks to my job at The Natl, live music doesn’t seem to do much for me the way it used to. It’s not as exciting anymore. It doesn’t have that “bite” anymore because I’m around it so much.
Now with that being said, what I experienced last night was the most intense musical spectacle I’ve ever seen, heard, and most prominently, felt.
It’s hard to convey this experience into words. I’m honestly convinced that I didn’t see a band onstage last night – but rather some sort of entity, presence, or force that knew nothing except the darker ethereal musical compositions they created, which were in turn complimented by the cold presence of their dark silhouettes that stood before us. There were no words said between songs. No conversation. Just sounds being calmly shattered into a blissful journey of sound and poetry that managed to strike nearly every chord of inside of me from start to finish. Throughout the entirety of the show, I could do nothing but stand, completely hypnotized and at mercy to the group. At times I smiled, while at times I cried. The words meant whatever I felt like they meant. Pieces like “Ny Batteri”,” Vaka”, “Saeglopur”, and “E-bow” sent me into whirlwinds of nostalgic emotion that refused to let go, while the vocal harmonies from the string quartet and brass section during the build-up in “Varuo” left me literally shaking. And then there was the thunderous finale of “Popplagio”, erasing the line between tranquility and apocalypse. I went from feeling energetic to depressed to mournful to gleeful to worthless to peaceful, all while possessed by this onstage fury that obliterated all of us in its path. When the lights came on afterward, I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t want to say anything. I was, and still am, catching up to what I had just seen – and I don’t know if I ever will, fully. And I’m totally fine with that.
The only physical memento I walked away with was a setlist with a drumstick taped to it that was thrown to me by a roadie afterward. Everything else is a memory to figure out.
There are instruments, there are singers, there are bands, there are concerts, and there are effects.
And then there’s Sigur Ros.