REVIEW / PHOTOS: Sigur Rós Plays Spirited Show @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery 8/12/12

“We’ve never played a cemetery before…It’s pretty spectacular.”

Jonsi of Sigur Rós 8/12/12

On Sunday night, Sigur Rós rolled into Los Angeles after playing a landmark set at Outside Lands (more on that to come) and continued the impressive concert series set forth by the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Having gone to Bon Iver’s special sunrise set in 2009 and The Flaming Lips Soft Bulletin last year in June, my expectations were pretty high for Sigur Rós. The venue is an experience in itself. You’re able to bring a picnic setup (blankets, beer/wine, snacks) and park inside the venue. Security is more concerned with fans stepping on gravestones than anything else. The Fairbanks Lawn at the Hollywood Cemetery is quickly becoming one of Los Angeles’ premiere outdoor concert venues. And by a large margin.

And Sigur Rós performed for two solid hours amongst an attentive sold-out crowd that knew each and every song as the first chords rang out. Check out the recap and setlist after the jump.

The music is hard to categorize given that the Icelanders don’t sing in English and actually creating their own language (Vonlenska) in helping to describe the un-intelligible lyrics the band (namely Jónsi Birgisson) sings. The music is rooted in classical elements but is hardly just that. The best way I can describe it is: an experiment of the senses. Sound On Sound says it best: “Their unique sound combines quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamism, lush instrumentation, and lead singer Jonsi Birgisson’s cherubic falsetto.” At times the band seemed to be playing with the audience’s every emotion.

A look around meant seeing someone shedding a tear while others joyfully bobbed their head to the bass line. Others sat with their eyes closed fully engrossed in each sound layering over one other with precision. Everyone at the sold out show (including Breaking Bad’s own Aaron Paul) seemed to be having a completely unique and spiritual experience. With the hollowed cemetery grounds being host to this kind of music, it only maximized the ethereal feeling.

Adding to the ambiance, the event organizers had large bowls of incense bellowing smoke everywhere with lighted silhouettes on the cemetery buildings and floating fires in some of the standing pools. I didn’t think the out-of-body experience that I felt at Bon Iver’s Sunrise show could be topped or even matched but Sigur Rós did that and more. A concert experience that will most likely stay in the top tier of 2012 for me personally.

Here’s the setlist from Sunday:

Sigur Rós @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery, CA 8/12/12

Lagid I Gaer
Ekki Múkk
Ny Batteri
Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa
Olsen Olsen
Hoppipolla + Med Blodnasir

(Source: LA Times Blog)

Here’s the full batch of photos: