Sigur Ros

LA’s world-famous orchestra adds an entire extra universe of sound to the Icelandic trio’s performances

Sigur Rós with the LA Philharmonic. All photos by Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging

Sigur Rós with the LA Philharmonic. All photos by Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging

If the experience of Sigur Rós live can be described as wondrous, then beholding them with an orchestra is a truly transcendent experience. Prior to this tour as a three-piece, I’ve always seen them with some form of miniature assemblage accompanying them, whether it’s the obscure-instrument-wielding Amiina or the Icelandic indie-folk group Parachutes, but never with a full symphony orchestra supporting them. Originally advertised as “career-spanning sets including fan-favorites (with orchestral accompaniment) and – “if things go to plan” – new, unreleased music (without orchestra)”, each night was a set similar to the current touring setlist, with the first half of the night seeing the band accompanied by the orchestra and the second with them playing solo. Despite the fact that each show had the same set of songs, each night was a different experience as the band and engineers discovered how to make the sound best fill the room, and the results were utterly spectacular.

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Two evenings of spellbinding wonder and incredible sound

Sigur Rós at the Fox Theater, Oakland

Sigur Rós at the Fox Theater, Oakland

This is the first of two posts chronicling my journey to see Sigur Rós for five performances in April 2017: two in Northern California, and three in Los Angeles with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. Be sure to catch them on tour and tune in to Pitchfork on Friday, April 14th for a stream of their second LA Phil performance!

Fifteen years ago, I remember wandering down a dimly-lit suburban lane on a chilly November evening, the street silent as a tomb. I had a copy of ( ), the third record by renowned Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, put that album in a Discman, and the quiet world around me instantly seemed to shift into some strange new world. I’ve always found that record to be an utterly sublime and immensely powerful expression of music, and was supremely pleased that some of my favorite songs from that album were in the set the first time I saw Sigur Rós play live. The band and their production crew are absolute masterminds at blending sound, light and visuals into an otherworldly experience; that show, in 2006 at the Marin Center in San Rafael, is still probably my favorite concert that I have ever experienced. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing Sigur Rós two times, playing two sets each (!), making these my sixth and seventh time experiencing their live performances — and they are just as astonishing as they have always been.

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Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?

Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?

All conversations converged to one singular point at the close of 1999:  The End of the World, and because of it, every possible best list of the century.  Whether it was about greatest album, or greatest toenail clipper, a list was compiled by the fanciest per-milenium robots.  Now the singular list missing from the cornucopia of lists was: The Music of 1999.  Everyone, consumed in their chicken little theories of Y2K and end of the world were too mad to see what was really happening.  The end of music as we knew it! In reality it seemed to set the youth of America back about twenty years. (If you take a look at the top record sales for 1999, trust me, you’ll want to cry). I’m as easy going as the next guy, but the Grinch himself would have shuddered at the sound of pop music sung by teen queens, boy bands, and all the music to come out of the entire state of Florida.  They all belonged on the naughty list, and should have been banished to the island of misfit albums.

Luckily I was able to see through the doomsday smoke, and find some albums to balance out the slew of trash on radio airwaves or Total Request Live. [read the whole post]

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FEAR THE BEARD

Where have you gone, (baseball’s) Brian Wilson? You weren’t there for the San Francisco Giants’ 2012 ring ceremony.

Concerts! Shows! Performances! And this week in the Bay Area, they’re extra-beardy!

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One of many hoisted high within the crowds

One of many hoisted high within the crowds

Additional contributions to this article by Dakin Hardwick. All photos by Jonathan Pirro except where noted.

Saturday dawns with nary a clue that the fog and mist are clearing, and the massive greenery of Golden Gate Park continues to beckon to those who would walk onto its already-heavily-trodden surface, tickets in hand and heads held high. The second day of the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is upon us, and like many of the other Saturdays of the annual San Francisco festival, it’s filled with some of the biggest, wildest acts, especially those that came to close the night. While the first signs of exhaustion are beginning to set in, those alert enough to pry themselves from slumber and scurry into the park at the hour of 11:00am were greeted by yet more feverishly addictive bursts of musical creativity. After the desiderata of strong coffee and a host of breakfast options that lay lazily along the fields, the several-thousand-strong mass began its trek from side to side, taking in another chapter of the chilly yet invigorating musical thunderstorm within.

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Poor guys… Gonna have to find someplace else to play Polo next weekend.

Every year, every festival in America claims to have the “best line up ever!” Well, San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music Festival has made to its 5th year, and they really are going to have a seriously difficult time topping this year’s event. Of course, this means that there are conflicts galore! You’ve got six stages of entertainment to try to decide between at any time of day.

The schedule can be awfully intimidating. Which is why I’m here to help guide you through the complex maze that is the Outside Lands schedule. Without further ado, here is SpinningPlatters’ Official Guide to Outside Lands 2012.

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Not Necessarily New Release Tuesday, 11/8/2011

November 8, 2011

Welcome to a new, and possibly recurring feature on Spinning Platters, Not Necessarily New Release Tuesday. In this, I’ll recommend some new music to listen to. Some of these will be actual new releases, but not necessarily. I’ll also be including recently discovered imports, leaked albums, and rediscovered music as well. Sometimes I’ll just try […]

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Show Review: Jónsi with Mountain Man at The Fox Oakland, 10/19/2010

October 20, 2010

The Icelandic quartet known as Sigur Rós has offered its fans, and concertgoers everywhere, some of the most emotionally-gripping, beautifully destructive, and downright astonishing shows that they will ever experience in their lives. I personally cannot think of a single show that I have seen that came close to the breath-catching feet-out-from-under-me sensation that overwhelmed […]

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Show Review: Jónsi at Zellerbach Hall, 4/15/10

April 17, 2010

All I can REALLY say is that you didn’t go to this show, you’ve just made the biggest mistake of your life.  Let me tell you all about it.  Maybe you made it up to yourself by seeing it last night in San Francisco, or you can make it up by traveling to faraway lands.  […]

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