Rumor has it that during Sigur Ros performances, the sheer overwhelming beauty of their pieces cause grown men to shed all traits of masculinity and suddenly break down and cry. I wasn't sure how valid this statement was or where it originated from, but I can assure you that when I bought my ticket, I was expecting a good cry to be a part of the experience. With this knowledge in the back of my mind I went into this concert with a box of Kleenex and extremely high expectations.
Having arrived to the show about a bit late, I missed most of the opening act, Parachutes, another Icelandic band that played that kind of dreamy ambiance pop very similar to Sigur Ros. There were several occasions however, when they sounded a little too similar (not that sounding like Sigur Ros is ever a bad thing). Unfortunately, I can’t really say much about this band, but everything I heard for those ten or so minutes sounded very promising. I’d say to definitely give them a shot on recording. After this brief taste of Icelandic magic, my anticipation had only grown. I held my box of Kleenex closely, ready for Sigur Ros.
They started things off with Sven G Englar, off of their Ágætis Byrjun album (my personal favorite). As expected, everything sounded magical and whimsical. Everything seemed to be going smoothly—they kept their playlist diverse (I was expecting the majority of the show to be filled with tracks off of their new album), had great light show to back it up as well as several film montages, and bursts of confetti to top it off. When the band started to play “Hoppipola”, the audience of course went wild. Lead singer, Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson (for the sake of pronunciation and sanity, we’ll call him Jon), had the audience accompany him throughout the songs with extended cries of “Ooohs.” Other highlights included “Saeglopur” and “Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur”. They closed the set with an orgasmic performance of “Gobblidigook”, a song I’m not particularly fond of, but the dreamlike rainbow lighting, snowstorm of confetti, and the collaboration with several drummers from Parachutes, pretty much made the song unforgettable. And of course there were a few encores—the epic “Untitled 8,” and the not so great “All Alright,” which ended the night on a rather quiet note.
I know I'm being a bit harsh, but although I thoroughly enjoyed Sigur Ros, I can’t help but feel a just a little bit letdown. For one, I didn’t cry, let alone feel emotionally on the verge of collapse (sometimes I wonder if I even have a heart anymore). I basically lugged around all that Kleenex for nothing. Secondly, I felt the set was too short. They played somewhere between an hour-and-a-half to two hours, which is a pretty decent set time, but most of the songs they played averaged around seven or so minutes. I guess I would’ve just liked to hear more (or maybe I wouldn’t be so bitter if they had played more stuff of Ágætis Byrjun). But my biggest complaint is regarding their sound—it’s pretty much the same as recording. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (at least they don’t sound worse than on record), but I guess considering my overly high expectations, I was expecting something utterly amazing. If anything, they sounded a bit thinner than on recording (probably because this time around, there was no string quartet accompanying them, which is odd, since they usually have the quartet during live shows). But overall, it was by no means a bad show—I’m completely content and happy that I went, and if they showed up in town again, I'd probably drop another fifty bucks to see them. I just won't expect to breakdown in the fetal position sobbing tears of bliss and joy.