Sigur Rós

Timothy Kiteless

washes up on our shores to kick off their North American tour.

Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós

City: New York
Venue: Beacon Theatre
Date: 2005-09-12

Sigur Rós
The Sentiment Growing up, I was never one for the theatre. Even as an adult that has seen numerous operas and musicals in various professional capacities, I still find myself unimpressed. I remember a girlfriend once catching me looking at the program during a performance of Rent and the 45-minute argument that ensued. Everything just seemed so literal, so obvious, so stiff, and so scripted. There's nothing for an introvert like me to grab hold of, to crawl inside. Maybe when I become more mature and cultured I'll appreciate high art; maybe not. It's been a while since I've written about music, really written about my love for it. It's a lot like a relationship in that respect. You're infatuated at first and you just can't get enough of it. Then inevitably you sink into a groove, you search out your styles and your genres, everything moves along at a predictable pace. Then one day you say to yourself, "I hate everything in my collection." And everything becomes stagnant. You need something different, something totally original, something alien. You need Icelandic act Sigur Rós. You need them to rekindle that spark inside that made you realize why you loved music so much, how it can take you someplace nothing else can. It's rare that you find a type of music that can accurately describe what you're feeling without lyrics you actually understand. That same theory applies to live shows: At first, everything is exciting, because it's live. The more shows you go to the more selective you become. Then one day you find yourself turning down dates on your favorite bands' tours because you're tired or it's too expensive. Terrible excuses, ones I could never see myself making for this band. The fact that the entire crowd paid for tickets is all the more reason to believe that everyone wanted to be there. No press comps, no corporate sponsor comps, no music magazine vans in the front handing out free garbage. And best of all, the fan club got the best seats in the house. This would be my first trip to the Beacon Theatre in New York and would prove to be as memorable as I had hoped. There really isn't a better venue to host a band like this, one more suited for a performance than a show. Seats are necessary. Brevity is not something this band is known for. They've built their fan base on soaring, sprawling (sometimes wordless) movements that last anywhere from seven to 13 minutes depending on tempo and pauses. A nice comfortable seat in a visually stunning theatre is exactly what's called for. Barring the inclusion of songs from the newer album, the actual show varied only slightly from their previous US tours. But to think of it in those terms is to detract from the real point of this experience. The precision, feeling, and overall beauty of their performance is what separates this band's performances from normal rock shows. It's an opera for the imagination, complete with highs and lows, twists and turns, and deeper and lighter moments which all combine for a climax that would leave anyone speechless. The octave arcs of uniquely enchanting falsetto that Jón Birgisson projects on the crowd are equally mesmerizing and intoxicating. This, coupled with the band's flawless accompaniment on each song leaves little to draw the attention away from the performance. It creates a type of focused sedation that's entirely hallucinatory. This isn't to say that the visuals aren't stunning as well, because they are. Typical Sigur Rós-ian imagery of small children and abstract shapes were projected onto a large retractable screen behind the band during the set for those who chose not to close their eyes. The visuals allowed us to visit this very strange yet very comfortable place that has been created for a short period of time. Anyone would be hard-pressed to leave the show without a feeling of total satisfaction. The set list on the second night was exactly that of the first but was every bit as memorable and moving. The experience is like seeing your favorite movie or listening to your favorite music over and over. You still love all the same parts but every time you discover something a little different, a little something that makes you a bit closer to the thing you love so much. I've never been to this place called Iceland, but I should like to go very soon.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.