I went to see Sigur Rós two nights ago, and let me tell you, those three guys are more than capable of conjuring symphonic splendor without the help of an actual symphony orchestra. Performing in front of (and sometimes behind) the most impressive visual rig I’ve ever seen at a concert, the Icelandic post-rock masters methodically unfurled two career-spanning sets, each slow-burn panorama taking on a heightened level of beauty thanks to that insane light show. It was one of those concerts that genuinely benefitted from a theater environment; everyone just sat back and let the transcendent sensory experience wash over them. My knowledge of the band’s discography beyond Ágætis byrjun and ( ) is not encyclopedic, so there were times when I wasn’t sure if I was hearing new material or, like, a deep cut from Valtari, but it didn’t much matter. Fucking gorgeous is fucking gorgeous.
At the Sigur Rós show and it’s crazy lit pic.twitter.com/HqKM30oxfE
— Chris DeVille (@chrisdeville) June 5, 2017
As you might expect from Sigur Rós, the music often just stretched out and magnificently drifted, which was stunning in its own right. But there were moments when they ramped up the intensity, too, and those moments were spectacularly visceral — none better than “Popplagið,” fka “Untitled 8,” the genuinely epic 11-minute closer from ( ). When they ended their Primavera Sound set with that song a year ago — a set that I described as “a breathtaking sensory overload that looked, sounded, and felt like heaven” — I literally ran away from the festival stage cheering and pumping my fist. It was every bit as thrilling this time. Go see them if you can.
And if you can’t, well, it’s your lucky day because a whole professionally filmed Sigur Rós concert went online today, and this one finds them backed by the full force of a top-flight symphony orchestra. The LA Philharmonic joined Jónsi Birgisson and company for a three-night collaboration this past April featuring string arrangements by various visionaries straddling the worlds of indie rock and fine arts — Owen Pallett, Dan Deacon, Nico Muhly, and Anna Meredith among them. Pitchfork has published full footage of the 4/14 performance at Walt Disney Music Hall, which featured arrangements by Deacon (“Festival”), Meredith (“Fljótavík”), and Daníel Bjarnason (“Á”). Stream the full 103-minute program below.
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