To be totally honest, ambient music bores me. For the most part, there isn’t much to set the genre’s songs and bands apart. On Saturday night, though, Jon Birgisson and the rest of Sigur Ros brought their beautifully crafted songs to the 1stBank Center and changed my stubborn mind.
The first thing that stuck out about the performance was not the music, but the stage layout and the atmosphere that it created. Behind the band hung a large, curved screen approximately 15 feet tall that spanned across the almost-100-foot stage. Around the band on stage were 20 microphone stands with lightbulbs atop each one. The giant screen showed images of horses, bodies and even the band as they played live. The lightbulbs flashed in time with Sigur Ros’ music.[nggallery id=175]
Barely removing themselves from song, the Icelandic musicians spoke English only once when Birgisson informed the audience that it was bass player Georg Holm’s birthday. The ever-endearing Birgisson not only urged the crowd to join the band in singing “Happy Birthday,” but also to, “sing in only Icelandic.”
From there the band jumped into their best-known song, “Hoppípolla.” Fireworks and colorful sparks jumped around on the screen as the serene and graceful song played out for an extended period of time.
Seeing Sigur Ros was not like going to most other shows. There was no singing along — unless you were bilingual — and there was little dancing in the near-capacity crowd. Shows like Sigur Ros’ are meant to be actively observed. The event recalled the grandiose, imaginative atmospheres created by many other big acts and essences of Coldplay, Radiohead and even Bon Iver’s memorable summer 2012 show could be felt.
Seeing Sigur Ros was not about what songs they played. I myself could recall maybe three or four specific songs. There was no distinct climax and no pinnacle of excitement. Although I left feeling like there were no real “highlights,” I soon realized that the show was intended to be that way. The event was about a collective of people who wanted to get lost in sparse soundscapes and minimalistic build-ups, which exploded into driving snare hits that landed on every down-beat.
Even though I went into the concert expecting to be less than excited as the set progressed, I had a change of heart. Birgisson’s strong audible textures and bowed guitar created a unique feeling that only the 6,000 people inside of the 1stBank Center could understand. Although Sigur Ros and other similar-sounding acts tend to bleed together, it is important to realize that Sigur Ros’ live show actually isn’t all about the music. It is about the tones and the connection that every audience member had with the person next to him.
In short, Sigur Ros at the 1stBank Center was not a concert, it was an experience.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Patrick Fort at Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org