Before a sold out crowd at Chicago’s Vic Theatre, Jónsi captivated with a performance that grew more mythical with each passing moment. Exceeding all expectations – and expectations were unfairly high - the evening transcends a mere rock show and proves to be a complete audio and visual experience which will leave you in complete and utter awe.
Taking the stage in a shirt with dangling feathers and tailored to appear torn and tattered; Jónsi was a storybook character brought to life. From stage left a lone spotlight beamed through the darkness to fall on him as he performed the yet unreleased “Stars in Still Water,” a somewhat subdued opener that features a delicately plucked guitar beneath Jónsi’s soft angelic vocal. The next two songs, which included “Hengilas” from Joni’s first and only solo release Go (2010), continued in much of the same heavy mood, with the singer remaining fairly stoic and close to his mic. It wasn’t until the fourth track, “Kolnidur,” that the show truly opened before us to reveal the full splendor in store for the evening. Kolnidur may not be the best track of 2010 but it will likely be the most beautiful. The song is one continuous building crescendo that ceases to relent until its final moments. While the song features a darker musical undercurrent than most of the tracks on the album, it is no less euphoric. It was followed by “Tornado,” another number with darker implications, which created a dynamic contrast to the later songs, particularly the unabashed exuberance of “Boy Lilikoi” and that jittery, joyous ode to youth, “Animal Arithmetic.”
Beyond the music, the performance is a striking visual feast for the eyes. During the show images are cast onto a huge screen at the back of the stage to accompany the music and it may be the most fully realized and immaculate marriage between audio and visual of any rock show yet. The images range from radiant sketches of animals dancing across a dark backdrop to elegiac imagery, of a forest or birds in flight.
With only one album under this solo project thus far, the set consisted of almost the entire recorded album, as well as a handful of unreleased songs. Many of the unreleased numbers even managed to outshine their released counterparts, alluding to very good things to come for the next album. Not to diminish what the band accomplishes as a whole, which is extraordinary, but the true power of the show resides within Jónsi. The other musicians move around the stage, not unlike actors in a play moving about the shadows, while Jónsi stands front and center delivering his monologue. Images race, lighting changes, the mood varies and the backing musicians switch instruments keeping the show in a constant state of flux, while the one constant, those soaring, unearthly vocals, manage to keep all of it in the background.
The evening is brought to a dramatic climax in the final song of the encore, “Grow Till Tall”, in which Jónsi, now draped in color and wearing a feathered headdress, screams into his mic as a tempestuous storm is simulated on stage. Simply put, the show is the greatest 80 minute dream you will ever have.
Without a holiday season full of good cheer in the year of the pandemic, Heather Maloney takes the right approach by making a festive EP and lyric video that will still deliver an emotional resonance.
Ryan Murphy's Netflix adaptation of the satirical musical about Broadway stars inserting themselves into a same-sex school dance controversy, The Prom, hits his sweet spots and his weaknesses.
Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals, Captain Beefheart, in this interview with PopMatters.
On a day when we share the Best Indie Rock of the year, step back in time to revisit Silkworm's 2000 indie rock classic, Lifestyle. Between the Grooves is a book-length PopMatters series examining artistically worthy albums in great depth.
Punk rockers Johnny Thunders and Wayne Kramer exist on a continuum of wild-eyed, angle-headed anarchists—a continuum filled with poets and artists and guitar-pickers, living and dead, who show us how to resist The Man.
The devastating power of the atomic bomb casts a long shadow over Ishiro Honda's The H-Man, Battle in Outer Space, and Mothra, now available on Blu-ray from Eureka Entertainment.
Burt Reynolds' Sonny Hooper is a carefree and lovable guy whose reckless stunt pro lifestyle symbolizes the self-troubles and limitations toxic masculinity creates.
The problem Joon-ho presents in Parasite is geometrical. Is this the only shape of society we can imagine as workable, as livable? Is this livable?
Even at only five tracks long, NIHITI's A New Kind of Weather never feels stunted. A single mood is sustained across the album, giving a sustained tension. There's not a song here that is not intricate and truly beautiful.
It's the privilege of satire to apply one's opponents' "logic" towards a reductio ad absurdum, as we see in The City without Jews.
Every Day We Get More Illegal, seems to foretell a diatribe vibe, but threaded throughout Herrera's verse is the musicality--the calming, invigorating melodies that remind us, ever so sweetly, if insistently: Latino lives are beloved.
In his melodrama The Nest, director Sean Durkin considers how we latch onto and accept cycles and routine, which offer only a superficial security from truth, shame and guilt.
In Calling Memory into Place, art historian and cultural critic Dora Apel explores the relationship between collective and personal memory and place in a series of reflective essays that are by turns erudite and personal.
Solstafir bravely continue on their adventurous post-metal path, Blood From the Soul return after 27 years in furious fashion, while Skelethal unleash another excellent death metal specimen.
The 10 best world music albums of 2020 remind us that we are all part of the same global system, an understanding that we can imbue with endless possible meanings as, like the musicians named here, we find new ways to build connections.