Last Night: Sigur Ros at Bayou Music Center

SigurRos 0410 3.jpg
Photos by Eric Sauseda
Sigur Ros
Bayou Music Center
April 9, 2013

If you ever want to feel like you've completely taken leave of Planet Earth for a couple of hours, might I recommend a ticket to a Sigur Ros show?

The Icelandic group has amassed a considerable following, enough to almost fill Bayou Music Center Tuesday, on the furthermost fringes of rock's avant-garde. Heavy on bowed guitar, pipe organ, and electronic adornement, the music every so often erupts like one of the geysers in the band's volcanic homeland.

Meanwhile, the singer Jonsi has a voice like a cross between a eunuch and a humpback whale and sings in a language he supposedly made up, called "Hopelandic." There is also an existing term for this, "glossolalia," defined by dictionary.com as "incomprehensible speech in an imaginary language."

That might be closer to the truth. But if your eyes have already glazed over, give me a minute.

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Fans who are big on pure sensory experience (or certain psychotropic drugs) will find a lot to like in a Sigur Ros show. It's dark. The stage looks like a metal forest with dozens of candlesticks topped by soft electric bulbs. An overhead screen the length of the stage showed an array of Northern Lights, underwater tableaux, entire galaxies and a hooded and masked figure that looked like the Imperial spy droid tailing Luke Skywalker's party to the Mos Eisley hangar in Star Wars.

The music was equally immersive, amniotic even, appropriate because another onscreen image looked like a giant fetus. The keyboards, horns and strings created a harmonically lush landscape, while the bowed guitar forcefully injected more than a little dissonance.

They can also create crystalline music-box melodies that feel as ephemeral and delicate as a spiderweb. Considering the black-clad musicians and all the electric candles onstage, the slower numbers came off as especially ceremonial, even ritualistic. I don't mind telling you once or twice I worried I had somehow joined a cult without even being asked.


Location Info

Venue

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Bayou Music Center

520 Texas Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Music

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6 comments
dbmayne1
dbmayne1

Sigur Ros was singular - one of the most affecting shows I've ever seen.  What's disappointing is that there's been so little mention of SR's opening act, Oneohtrix Point Never, one of music's most promising (relatively) new artists.  Truly surreal to hear what OPN was doing in a large venue.  He also provided the best visual of the night:  a heartfelt middle finger to some yahoos woohooing during the quiet parts.  Bravo!

Smedley
Smedley

I thought it was a decent show, but the last time I saw them (something like 10 years ago) the venue was 100% seated. Maybe I'm just old now, but I kinda felt the same as what the 'overheard in the crowd' person stated. The stage design was excellent and they sounded great though. I did have to watch some of the performance through many smartphones at times though... there were simply too many. One idiot actually filmed the entire show on his and I'm pretty sure he actually watched the entire show through his screen.

luvrhino
luvrhino

It was one of the best concerts i've been to.  I'm not a huge fan of Sigur Rós, but in the right mood i really enjoy their music.  As described in the review, they're so idiosyncratic in so many ways, that it make the live concert experience immersive and memorable.

No question about it being pretentious.  One good thing about Jonsi's singing is that no one dared to try to sing along, even if they somehow knew the "words."  Except for a couple asshats talking nearby, the band's playing was the only noise.

The sound quality isn't great, but here's one of their heaviest, most metal songs performed during this tour:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye1ntCQICTo

dermgerm
dermgerm topcommenter

I heard they were pretty awesome, but then again, the people I know who went are big fans. I like to think of sigur ros like electronic or classical music. You gotta feel that shit, yo!

Andrew
Andrew

Amazing night!!!

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