Sigur Ros – [Live]

Saturday, 04 October 2008

After seeing as many shows as I have over the years, it’s still pretty easy to walk away and say that I had a really good time, but it’s another to experience something truly unique as I—along with 3500 Chicagoans—did on this warm Wednesday evening at perhaps the most beautiful venue in the country.

During “Festival,” while soaked in a dim yellow light that made Jónsi look like he was standing on a street corner, he turned the volume knob on his guitar down to zero and just stood there like a statue. Was he testing us? We know the song wasn’t over so we just patiently waited with him. And for exactly 20 seconds there wasn’t a single sound in the venue. No one clapped. No one wooed. No one coughed. Just silence. I probably said, “That was amazing!” 35 times during the show, but for a band to command that kind of respect is something else entirely. I can’t imagine this only happening in Chicago either. I might be new to this city, and the people for the most part are quite nice, but I would really put this on Sigur Ros’ ability to truly captivate and audience. Not to mention, I can’t think of another band that could actually pull that off.

Perhaps some dude came to the show on the promise that “they’re kinda like Radiohead.” In fact, they are not at all like Radiohead, but from the numerous conversations I’ve had over the years about both bands, they do seem to share a fan base. Although there are the fans that get defensive and say, “I mean, he’s not even singing real words?! That doesn’t make sense,” as if he would be able to comprehend the songs’ meanings if they were all sung in Icelandic.

To be honest, I can barely contain myself emotionally listening to Sigur Ros as it is, and to have some profound lyrics attached to some of the most gut-wrenching songs ever written could quite possibly melt my soul and I might transcend to another dimension. It’s like the phrase, “It hurts so good.” But if you did whatever “it” was a little harder it would just, you know, hurt. They tried the lyric thing early on and soon figured out that by sending fan after fan into the 5th dimension, it was bad for record sales. So Hopelandic it is.

Over the years we’ve just accepted Sigur Ros and their lack of pretension. Although an outsider might disagree if they saw an album at Virgin Megastore called ( ). But it’s Sigur Ros, and it’s okay. I mean, it’s funny to see them mock themselves by naming a song off their latest album, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust, “Gobbledigook.” During this song a group of what looked like local kids from the Northwestern marching band waltzed on stage to pound the crap out of their drums along with over 3000 people clapping in unison. Once again, pretension was checked at the door and we all just played along. This also happened during “Hoppípolla,” when Jónsi stopped to speak to the crowd in his native tongue—I did manage to hear a takk or two—but managed to say, “Can you sing with us?” Of course the entire venue obliged and for a few minutes we all oohed and ahhed the best we could—it sounded pretty amazing. I guess it’s as close to call and response Sigur Ros can get without having to write a song called “American Idiot.”

Of course they played all the best songs from their catalog, which I’m sure could be argued, but they weaved their way in and out of, “Glósóli, "Hafsól,” “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur” and a ton more during their 2-hour set. But what stood out again was “Festival,” which ended with two canons on stage blasting confetti onto the crowd—this was actually the second time it was used during the show. So the same song that froze an audience for almost half a minute ended with dual-canon action. Only Sigur Ros.

This is a band that deserves every ounce of respect we gave them, and as long as they keep churning out some of the deepest, most intense and heartfelt albums of our time, they will continue to be adored by the thousands of lucky fans that actually get them.


Sigur Ros — Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust. Buy it NOW on

Related articles:

Sigur Ros — Heima – [DVD Review]

Sigur Ros – "Gobbledigook" – [mp3]
Sigur Ros – "Untitled 8" – [mp3]
Sigur Ros – "Staralfur" – [mp3]
Sigur Ros – "Untitled 4" – [mp3]
Sigur Ros – "Von" – [mp3]

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