“Where are you guys going?”
“Texas”, I replied.
“We are going to see a band at Cedar Park”
“Really? What kind of band?”
“Well, they are a band from Iceland that play instrumental music but sometimes sing in their own invented language and have songs that are between 5 and 12 minutes long”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. We have extra tickets, though. Do you want to come with us?”
“Sure, why not”
And that, dear readers, is how you trick a friend’s 20 year old little brother in to witness one of the finest bands alive. That’s how a road trip of four, that later turned into three, then two and finally three again to see Sigur Rós came to be.
Sigur Rós‘ music does not need words in any real language because the music itself seems unreal, unexpectedly appealing and impossible to put down in words. Maybe that’s why it took this writer so long to post about their show held last month in Texas. (Can’t believe it took me 11 years to be there…)
It all started with this white album with no letter, just a ( ) sign on the cover. Strange, haunting and mysterious, that’s what made me buy that record: it was just odd. And oddness is what grabs any 13 year old kid’s attention, like me at that time. I took it home, put it in my old Walkman (damn, I feel old now) and heard Untitled 1 for the first time. From that moment on, Sigur Rós became a standard for me in the amount of emotion anyone can put into an album, let alone a song. Would this happen live? Oh, it did. It did in so many wonderful ways.
It had been a 2 day long road trip from Monterrey through the border (legally, I swear) with my friend Juan and his little (and tallest among us three) brother Julio, but a few hours of sleep, way too many gas station food courts and some unhealthy hours without a shower: we were finally there on a Wednesday night. Smelly, hungry but surprisingly in a great mood, we sat inside Cedar Park Center as the lights went down. There, we saw a giant with a guitar on his shoulder and a violin bow, surrounded by a sea of lights.
Siur Ros’ Untitled 1
It was Jónsi Birgisson’s enormous shadow, along with Georg Hólm and Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson accompanied by an eleven piece orchestra, playing the first notes to Yfirborð in front of a packed venue with a light show the Wizard of Oz himself would be proud of. Creating an atmosphere through video projections that feels like a giant window into another undiscovered world, Sigur Rós‘ music becomes the perfect soundtrack to it.
Just before the third song, a giant veil that worked as a projection screen went down and reality went down with it as Untitled 1 and a set of light bulbs turning off and on resembling an ocean wave began. I noticed a lot of tears began to run down along with cheers, along with applause, along with roars, along with my own tears. Have you been told that music sounds better on vinyl, as it sounds warmer that on a cold mp3 player and you can actually feel the music going through you? Well, I bet it would be hard to control yourself at a live show like this.
A non-existent and non-understandable language became universal and real for an entire audience through song like Sæglópur, Hoppípolla, Olsen Olsen, through fifteen songs and two hours: that’s the power of music Greeks talked and studied about centuries ago. And that power was felt and embraced by me eleven years ago through a now non-functioning CD player and now on a cold Wednesday night in Texas.
Sigur Rós are a must see, must hear, must live experience. It doesn’t matter how you live it through: if it is through a curious album cover, a song, a YouTube video or a concert with a brother and a stranger friends of his, your life could change if you are willing to open yourself to some of the strangest yet beautiful music created for universal ears.
Just make sure to have some tissues at hand.
Written by Jorge A. López Mendicuti
OurVinyl | Senior Writer
Special thanks to the Mata brothers for taking me along and not killing me for my rendition of A-Ha’s Take On Me every hundred miles, to Rodolfo and Dora for receiving my guitars every now and then and taking care of them, to Roly and Alicia for keeping us off the streets, warm beds and a delicious northern style barbeque, to my Morita for letting yourself be seen, hugged and spoiled after a long time of not having the grace of having you near me, I miss you..
Damn, I shouldn’t have wrote this while listening to Sigur Rós, I’m out of tissues…