There’s just something inimitable about Sigur Ros. Working their way through an enthralling show at Brooklyn’s King’s Theatre last Friday, the Icelandic post-rock titans proved that, despite being a band for longer than most current college students have been alive, their music hasn’t lost an ounce of its vitality.
Their performance didn’t thrill in the same way that other legacy acts do. It was not a chance for audience members to be reminded of some bygone era as they sing along to a song that dominated radio airwaves some 20, 30 or 50 years before. It was a chance to feel. Their music evokes pure, unadulterated feelings in a way that few other artists, even those who paint with a similar sonic palette, are able to. Trying to encapsulate their performance in words, especially when the band achieves so much without them, feels counterproductive. Yet to experience what those three musicians brought to the stage and come out with no reaction would be impossible.
Each note carried with it an intense intimacy coupled with imposing grandeur, as if with each soft piano tone one was receiving a glimpse of the bigger picture, as if this music was being played specifically for each individual audience member and still, somehow, for the universe at large. As sound swirled around the hall of King’s Theatre, it became easy to forget that this music was being made by human beings right before the crowd’s eyes.
The most striking part of the show was the band’s humanity. Each of the band members are notably emotive performers, never seeming to phone it in, even when they’re playing the simplest parts. Sigur Ros straddle the line between rock band and orchestra by bringing the best of both worlds. They’re a fantastically cohesive live unit, especially considering that this is their first time touring as a three-piece. They have a remarkable electricity that propels so many of their songs to thrilling climaxes.
Longtime fan favorites like “Glosoli,” “E-Bow” and “Festival” were met with the obligatory excited applause and cheers from the crowd. Some other songs, like “Vaka” or “Dauoalagio” for instance, seemed to sneak their way inside until the audience would all of a sudden realize the transcendence of what they were hearing moments before it would end.
All of this was still dwarfed by the beauty of the show’s lighting. In traditional Sigur Ros fashion, it eschewed traditional projections for something far more immersive, featuring multiple screens and an industrial lighting rig that came together in a feat that could have justified it’s own show sans music. The way that it integrated into the band’s musical atmosphere and transported the audience to another world was borderline magical.
Beginning their second set positioned between the two sets of screens, the band allowed themselves to be surrounded by their own world, surrounded by projections of eerie clouds of smoke or rays of heavenly golden light. Then, halfway through “Saeglopur,” they stepped out to the front of the stage and unleashed a musical and visual spectacle for the ages, complete with crashing cymbals, Jonsi’s ethereal bowed guitar and falsetto vocals and a dazzling supernova of lighting innovation. Sigur Ros have never veered wildly off course in their career, but their music is constantly revealing its beauty to listeners. When its creators bring it to life, in all of its power, its emotion and its otherworldliness, it’s down right spiritual.
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