Thursday, August 04, 2005

a show for grown-ups

I was mid in a log this afternoon, when we had a total blackout. Now I feel like all the following will be repeating what I already said. *sigh*

First, an introduction. For those of us who don't know who or what Sigur Ros are/is, they are a band of musicians, four men, from Iceland. The music is a bit tricky to classify - probably a good ting.

Let's start with the basics.

They have a singer, who who generally sing in Icelandic at the top pitch of his range in a slighty 'vocalese' style. He wears a guitar, low-slung, and occasionally sings into its pick-ups for the effect. There's a keyboardist. The rhythm is slow, but the drummer often plays very fast.
(I feel like I'm doing charades or something here)

There are a lot of effects used, like warbling eerie organ notes and then a bit of thrashing but slow guitar riffing, then back to a guitar that sounds like a jew's harp. (gee, I'm floudering. no offense to the fans...)

Overall, the effect is like rock, but lullabies. Its sort of ambient metal. I don't know what it is, but its good. Hey, at least i TRIED to describe it.

OK - now, they usually play on stage with another band, called Amina, which is comprised of 4 Icelandic women. At the gig last night, Amina joined the main concert about halfway through, as a string section. They also played the pre-Sigur Ros warm-up, but weren't all strings for that.

The wierd thing was, it was a rock-type audience at the Melbourne Arts Centre. White as. So, we all gathered around the padded glossy interior, looking like the types of people who aren't used to being in well-lit places at night. Although I think there was a fair contingent of Icelanders there who were just attending to be patriotic.

When Amina began playing, from where I sat up in the stalls, everybody was quiet was attentive. They were dressed in long dresses with what looked like box-pleats. Very feminine, very hus-fru. On stage, they had a big table with a floor length table-cloth. It was easy to imagine them in the depths of the northern winter in a cosy kitchen with a reindeer stewing on the stovetop, all gathered around a table, tinkling away with their instuments, no doubt with a child or two around them.

Then, a terrible thing happened. The gap between the seriousness of the venue, the art of the music, and the dishevelledness of the crowd got to me. I got the giggles. I nudged Børge, and he got the joke (yes, we are the in-joke type of couple).
(whispering) "Do you want to try crowd surfing?" (pffffff! tee hee hee!)
"I feel like I'm in church!"
"I reckon you're the only person here without a blog" (pffffff! snigger snigger!)
"Did they remember to pre-heat the oven?" (Ga! tee hee snigger snigger!)

But of course we still appreciated the music. At the interval before Sigur Ros, the grown-ups behind us SHOOSHED us! Just because they have long attention spans. Or something.

Sigur Ros were good. The music was magic. However, they seemed a bit navel-gazing last night, and I expect it was because they had a purely Sigur Ros audience.
The light show was creative, very beautiful. Water-like effects, like light playing on water, and the play set to bright music, with the depths of the water echoed in the music's sobriety and smoothness. I sat there and thought about the significance of light to an Icelander. I wondered if they thought about the significance of darkness to an Australian audience?
The baby doll with its eyes poked out was disturbing and I would have preferred, a war scene perhaps? What added to my experience is that I was well back from the stage, whereas the previous time I was at the very front - this can make a big difference with some bands.
I wish there were more bands that could do what they do so well.


Blogger No_Newz said...

Sounds like a good time. I've never heard that kind of music but I did get a good idea from your description in my mind.
Lois Lane

5:04 am  
Blogger Phil said...

I think 94 farenheit is about 39 celcius. I'm not sure. It's really hot. Now I'll go back and read your post. : )

11:29 am  
Blogger Phil said...

Grown ups suck. I never want to be one.

11:33 am  
Blogger Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

I so wanted to see them in Sydney, but the show was sold out., though if your heading is true then maybe it wasn't the show for me; I have to agree with Phil.

Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional.

Oh, working on the Szymborska poem and you might want to listen to another Icelandic band who are vaguely similar to Sigur Ros, they're called Mum.

12:01 pm  
Blogger ...mj said...

justine, Sigur Ros actaually sing in "Hopelandish", which is their own made-up dialect, a mix between English and Icelandic. I thought the crowd was not quite a rock crowd: maybe a bit more artsy than a pure rock crowd

Aleks, if you have a look at the Sigur Ros webpage, ttp:// you'll find that the Melbourne show was recorded, and potentially the Sydney show also, so soon enough there'll be recordings out there to listen to, so you won't end up totally missing out. All you'll need then is a BIG sound system to do the music justice!

Mum are excellent! They played in Australia about 2 years ago. I'm hoping they'll be back soon!

...and in a shameless self-plug: he says "check my Blog for another review of the same Sigur Ros show!"

12:23 pm  
Blogger Michelle said...

Justine, they sound like great candidates for "Eurovision Song Contest"... i love that show!!
I miss the Arts centre, it's so cool :)

1:10 pm  
Blogger Justine said...

Oh Michelle :-) I don't know. I mean, after WIGWAM missed out this year I've become totally disillusioned with the whole set-up!

5:20 pm  
Blogger Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

Oh, while you are on bands, one of my favourite bands is a Canadian punk/hardcore band called, SILVERSTEIN. They named themselves after Shel Silverstein. I saw them about 2 months back when they were in Australia. So much energy and emotion. Though given the fact that was about 8 to 10 years older than 90% of the audience, the concert gave me mixed emotions.

5:51 pm  
Blogger Michelle said...

Wigwam rocked, but it's the host that i watch it for! That guy cracks me up, i think it's the "emotion" in his voice. It's such a cool show, has me glued to the tv! SBS rulez hehehe!

9:57 pm  
Blogger Larry Bonewend said...

Sorry to barge in, I am 'tagging' you, from, which means you have to list your Top 10 Turn On/Offs, and then 'tag' some other two people. At least I think this is how it works, it seems to be spreading around the blogosphere, and now you have it. Have fun with it.

(Blame Aleks, he gave it to me)

11:48 pm  
Blogger Phil said...

Justine, based on what I've read of your musical taste, another band you might like is the Eels.

1:54 pm  
Blogger Justine said...

I know what you mean Aleks. Some places I go, the kids think I'm a supervisor!

You said it Michelle - best station in the world (as David from the Movie Show proudly announced on channel 7 - did you see that? It was a year or two ago I think)

Hi Larry - OK i'll blame Aleks, sure! I've never tagged anyone before... scary new territory.

Phil - you seem to be a constant source of good recommendations. I think I know the Eels - I'll look em up.

10:21 pm  
Blogger Roguemaze Central said...

I did my research as I am one of those who were ignorant to the sigur.

They are Thom Yorks fave band and radiohead basically rip them off for their music.

Thanks for the education.

Looks like it will be a love hate relationship with you and I Justine. Turn on, turn off....

And so life goes.

9:49 am  
Blogger Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

Phil is right, the Eels are good, you'd probably like them.

10:13 am  
Blogger Rob Seifert said...

What a lovely picture you painted of that event! I've never heard either of the bands you mentioned but, after your mention, I find myself curious. Thanks for telling us about your experience.


5:36 am  
Blogger Justine said...

Triple J site has Sigur Ros at the Enmore.

7:48 pm  

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