123 was the number of the evening, as in this was Sigur Ros’ one hundred and twenty third show on this current tour. The eleven piece ensemble, for having played so many shows, didn’t shows any signs of fatigue. Alternately, the show was a chaotic, yet structured slice of heaven. It has been said that the Eskimos have over a hundred words for SNOW. That concept and notion is how I feel about Sigur Ros’ performance at Champion Square in New Orleans, as there must have been at least that many different exhibitions of euphoria, of which I was full of after the set.
Nestled between the Superdome and the Hyatt Hotel, Champion’s Square is all decked out with inspirational quotes and sports memories and ironically would serve as the perfect background to one of the most amazing post-rock performance based bands out there, Sigur Rós. Being an outdoor venue, many things could have gone wrong, as the day had started off raining, but the weather managed to taper off right before the gates opened. The rolling clouds and sporadic mist would only help intensify an already electrically-charged show. The elements really played an integral part in making the performance extra special. The only thing that would have even came close to piercing the mood and throwing it over the top would have been some fog rolling.
Louisiana native Julianna Barwick had the daunting task of opening up for Sigur Rós. Julianna’s avant-guard, modern classical, and ambient music is built up around multiple loops and layers of her voice all being processed live on stage. The music lent itself to a great mood-setting piece for the main event, but at time become a bit redundant. It very ethereal and beautiful, but the dynamics of general song structure seemed to be missing at times. At one point I thought I was stuck in a David Lynch movie. The crowd was very appreciative of her efforts and she was all too thrilled to be playing in her home state for the first time.
After a somewhat quick turnaround, the stage crew came out and removed all the tarps from the bands instruments. Jónsi and Co. each took their place and used the stage to their advantage, many of whom bouncing around the stage playing multiple instruments. The horn and string section were perfection. To say a Sigur Ros show is a roller coaster ride would be a vast understatement. A roller coaster of sounds from the stage roared through the audience all throughout the night. In turn, the entire performance offered meandering waves through varying stages of emotional and spiritual bliss that emanated and was palpably felt throughout the crowd. At the end of the set you couldn’t help but exhale in relief and joy and not have an inexplicable urge to hug the person next to you.
The set was a well-balanced effort from the majority of Sigur Ros’ material. The new songs felt even more amazing live and seem to find new life on stage. The set was also mirrored quite amazingly with random and poignant images, strobe lights, stage lamps, and fog. Each element served as a building block for the song at hand. One of the most powerful moments of the set happened during the song “Festival”; when images of the band started appearing on the giant screens behind the band mirroring the extreme power that was unfolding on stage. Each song weaved into the next almost seamlessly, only being interrupted by a short “Thank You.” The set ended with one of the band’s most powerful tracks from their untitled album ( ), track 8 aka “Popplagið.”
Sigur Ros are known for long hiatuses between tours, so do yourself a favor, if you want a life changing experience, go and see them. If this was my first concert ever, I’m not sure any other show after that would be able to stack up.
SETLIST: Sigur Rós @ Champions Square, New Orleans, LA | Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
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