TVD Live Shots: Sigur Rós at the Eventim Apollo, 9/22

I’ve seen thousands of concerts in my life, but nothing could prepare me for my first Sigur Rós show. Billed as “an evening with” and a 15-song set split into two sets, it was the final night of three sold-out shows at the Eventim Apollo in London. Touring as a stripped-down trio, the critically acclaimed Icelandic band looks to be testing new material currently being written toward a forthcoming eighth studio album.

Moments into the set you are transported to another world. It’s like a live cinematic experience of both beauty and darkness. Frontman Jónsi Birgisson’s falsetto vocals and the use of bowed guitar (think Jimmy Page, but with grace) build a wall of sound that is complemented by some of the most incredible lighting I’ve ever seen. While the trio’s music is very ethereal and atmospheric, when it goes dark, it gets heavy.

Drummer Orri Páll Dýrason transforms from a fusion style jazz drummer in an instant to a raging power player, hitting each drum with the force of a cannon. It’s an incredible dynamic to watch live, and at certain points I literally thought his drum set was going to break apart.

They sing mostly in “Volenska,” which is their own invented language (also known as “Hopelandic”). The band themselves describe it as “a form of gibberish vocals that fits to the music,” and it’s a similar style used by kindred spirits the Cocteau Twins.

A decade into their celebrated career, Sigur Rós have carved out a niche of their own around the globe. It’s an ironic twist as the band does everything they possibly can not to be mainstream or accessible, yet their fan base and appeal continues to grow. It’s refreshing to see a band that strives for artistic uniqueness without record sales and popularity as their primary goal.

I absolutely loved this show. It’s the type of thing that you go to see with an open mind and leave with a sense of mystique and a ton of questions. Sigur Rós embraces that mystique so much so that it’s the only band I’ve ever seen with a dedicated FAQ page on their website which I found incredibly helpful for deciphering what I had just witnessed.

When Sigur Rós comes to your city, see this show. It will change your life.

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