This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Sigur Ros @ The Greek Theater 10/2
It takes real strength to come to America and sell out concerts singing in your native tongue. I mean, how many people in the world let alone America speak Icelandic? Not very many. And yet, Sigur Ros sold out nearly all of their North American shows including last Thursday's gig at the Greek Theater. It should inspire hope in Albanian bands, Slovakian bands, Sri Lankan bands, and any other that you can conquer American hearts without singing in English, Spanish, French or any other more popular language. If (and there is an if) you are brilliantly talented musicians. Sigur Ros is a testament to the fact that music transcends all boundaries and all barriers. People will feel it in their bones, in their souls, and in their very cores. It binds and defines us together as human beings. Review continued below photo gallery
Ok, enough highfalutin' waffling. (Although I do enjoy a good waffle.) Let's get down to the performance. With stunning visual accompaniment, Sigur Ros took the stage and transformed the Greek theater into a magical place. No seriously, there is something about their music that can make every day objects seem bizarrely epic. The trees weren't just trees, they were ancient trees full of knowledge and wisdom. The audience wasn't just an audience, it was an audience of your compatriots that you loved and loved you back. Even the lights that shone into the night sky weren't just electricity, but seemed like beacons of hope in the darkness. Everything down to the glockenspiel was transformed. Instead of mallets hitting wood, the percussionist seemed to be performing some mystical rite.
Sigur Ros' greatest gift to the listener is that their music inspires the imagination. Some members of the audience were heightening their imaginations (as they tend to do) with forbidden fruits over the course of the night. So much so by the end of the first set my hair wreaked of forbidden substances. The garments that the band was wearing also lent themselves to the whimsical air. The lead singer, Jón Birgisson, was wearing a military jacket that wouldn't be out of place in Sgt. Pepper, the keyboardist, Kjartan Sveinsson, was all in black, the drummer, Ágúst Gunnarsson, had a sparkly crown, and the bassist, Georg Hólm, resembled the Mad Hatter in his finery. Of course you can get this sense from their albums, but seeing them live gives an extra element to the music. A certain energy that I believe is the result of the audience feeding off the whimsical music. I saw people whirling like dervishes in the aisles, drumming like mad on their seats, and desperately trying to sing along. It was gorgeous.
Top photo by Sandra Vahtel