TVD Live Shots: Björk’s Cornucopia at the Shrine Auditorium, 1/29

PHOTOS: SANTIAGO FELIPE | Björk has been pushing the boundaries of self-expression since leaving one of Iceland’s most popular groups, The Sugarcubes, in the early ‘90s to pursue a solo career. One of the most innovative composers of our time—Grimes couldn’t exist without Bjork, Radiohead has claimed her as a major inspiration, and it’s safe to say that Cardi B’s eccentric fashions wouldn’t be as well-received if Björk hadn’t paved the way.

I heard her say in an interview that the decision to create dance music in her larger-than-life way came down to one thing: she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t. Four-decades of studio albums, influential collaborations, groundbreaking music videos, visionary stage performances, museum exhibitions, and innumerable awards and accolades later, Björk remains Vanguard #1.

At the intersection of music, visual art, and the latest technology, I imagine Björk standing on the precipice of a volcanic Icelandic mountain peak contemplating how to display to the world her inner being. The answer, delivered by way of a formation in the flowing lava or a gust of Nordic wind, streams a new world into her consciousness. She makes her descent down the mountain pondering how to convey it.

Björk’s “Cornucopia,” a mystical union, is that new world. Created to support her ninth studio release Utopia, a birdsong and flute-centric album co-produced by fellow visionary Arca, the album and this show are meant to address how we, nature, and technology can harmoniously coexist.

The night began with a performance by Los Angeles-based choir Tonality, whose members were outfitted in all white and wore animistic gold masks designed by long-time Björk collaborator, James Merry. The crowd roared with applause once Björk, also masked in an exquisite, futuristic Vanebon dress, was revealed from behind the curtain. Perched on a red, illuminated disc resembling a hen-of-the-woods-mushroom, she opened with “The Gate” with defining high/low pitched vocal synergy.

It was all flora and fauna from there as high-tech Fantasia-like visuals awakened across the screens and Viibra, her 7-person fairy-esque flute ensemble, floated across the stage. Within this alternate universe the quintessential marching snare drum sound and electronic bass Björk’s music is known for looped with more percussion and harpist Katie Buckley. As this encounter with the digital/natural world unfolded before us, there was an unspoken sacrilegious energy amongst the eclectic crowd that movement of any kind was unwelcomed.

Experimental musician serpentwithfeet joined Björk on the stage for a tender rendition of “Blissing Me.” Largely dedicated to Utopia’s songs, a few older reconfigured tracks like “Isobel,” “Venus as a Boy,” and “Hidden Place” made an appearance. “Pagan Poetry” a song from Vespertine (2001) is really how I’ve come to define Björk’s music—a bridge between the old ways and the industrialized world. She’s never shied away from the environmental responsibility that exists in this space.

It seemed poignant when, at the start of the encore, a prerecorded virtual message from environmental activist Greta Thunberg was projected on the curtain pleading for more global awareness and change. A switch into a biomimicry, Haute Couture Iris Van Herpen number left the audience in awe as she closed this provoking show with “Future Forever” and “Notget.”

More than just performance art, this was one of Björk’s many pièces de resistance, but one that felt like a direct conduit from the other side. It was a pleading and hope for the future of our species, but with the question in mind—are we finally ready to listen?

Björk’s Cornucopia will wrap up in San Francisco where she will continue with Björk’s Orkestral until August 2022.

This entry was posted in TVD Los Angeles. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text