Sigur Rós | 2.21.06

While their forms filled the screen, the band transitioned into the breathtaking crescendos of “Glosoli,” which churned and churned until it exploded into blistering melodic wall of noise, letting the music and the shadowy profiles flicker back and forth between their mortal sizes and the larger-than-life outbursts.

 

The Pageant, St. Louis

The Sigur Rós experience has become a popular one indeed. Having whisked through a slate of mostly sold-out shows across the United States in February in support of their fourth record, last fall’s alluringly approachable Takk…, the Icelandic post-rockers have already added another leg to their tour following their U.S. return for Coachella in late April. With a pull far wider than just the hipsters who latched onto the band when it first surfaced in the late ’90s, Sigur Rós commands audiences with its perfected transom to the affecting.

With a scrim drawn across the length of the stage and lights silhouetting the instruments, the band took the stage to the short instrumental title track of their recent album. While their forms filled the screen, the band transitioned into the breathtaking crescendos of “Glosoli,” which churned and churned until it exploded into blistering melodic wall of noise, letting the music and the shadowy profiles flicker back and forth between their mortal sizes and the larger-than-life outbursts.

Their performance is barely a concert at all. It’s more of a portable epic, rolled from city to city, led by enigmatic frontman Jon Bor Birgisson—as equally adept at using his voice as an instrument while the lyrics alternate between Icelandic and the invented, wraithlike language “Hopelandic,” as he is maneuvering over his guitar with a cello bow. The band is especially nimble, as Kjartan Sveinsson on keyboards, Georg Holm on bass, and Orri Pall Dyrason on drums joined Birgisson in occasionally changing up instruments, playing keyboards and xylophones. This depth is helped along by the addition of the four ladies from Anima, longtime friends and collaborators, who opened with a set of their own resourceful instrumentation ranging from laptop to saw, in addition to their more often-played strings, and who joined Sigur Rós for most of the headliner’s set.

Through their initial set’s 12 songs, Sigur Rós showcased their inimitable vision with moments both muted and heart hammering. “Saeglopur” is an astonishing song; live, the sparkling bright notes fluttered through the strings and piano until the song completely unraveled, immersing the entire theater into its circular hooks. The haunting ebb of “Gong” and the mystic tonality of “E-Bow” had picturesque moments of entrancement. There’s no idle chitchat from Sigur Rós—their connection with the audience is purely through the music and its staging through the lights and film clips which sometimes played out as the backdrop. By the time Holm had taken to banging his bass with a drumstick on “Hafssol,” the show had already filled up the hearts of fans, especially one young man who desperately wrestled with yelling song titles out over and over throughout the night, until he finally turned to his friend and asked: “How do you request a song in another language?”

The band returned after a brief respite to play “Svo Hljott” and then huddled together for “Heysatan,” playing as a handful of small lights flickered like candles to the pulse of the music. Sigur Rós ended their show the same way they have every other night of the tour, with “Popplagid,” the last number from their nameless album ( ). With the sheer back across the stage, the finale, like the beginning, charged gradually, swelling to a delirious and hurried musical rush. It was a perfectly rapturous number to close on, and the two curtain calls the eight musicians took with gracious bows after it was over were well deserved, especially for the more than 90 minutes of quixotic ecstasy they provided.

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