Saturday night rolled around and it was time to motivate to go check out Sigur Ros. Having previously seen Iceland's greatest non-female export, I knew what sort of joy was in store for me, but the quartet still managed to amaze me and stun the packed house with their atmospheric brilliance. The building was as quiet as a library as the band took the stage, everyone on the edge of their seat or on tip toes to see what would happen next. It was incredible the hold the Icelandic "Victory Rose" held over the crowd; it was as if everyone was under a spell cast by these purveyors of mind-expanding space rock.
They played three songs initially, joined by a four-piece all female string section, but with their drummer just sitting behind his kit, playing occasional soft percussion. The string section left for the fourth number and the magnificent soundscapes provided were now accompanied by the most bombastic drumming imaginable. I must have been lulled into a peaceful state by the first three songs, as this explosive drumming sounded as if it were powerful enough to bring the Warfield Theater crashing down around me. Frontman Jon Thor Birgisson sung in "Hopelandic," his made up language, but his amazing falsetto has to be heard live to be believed. Playing his guitar with a violin bow, the sonic wash paired with his soaring vocals and drum blasts was an incredibly moving experience, and one shared by the entire massed throng. Even when people spoke to each other, they whispered, adding to the mystery and grandeur of the event. By the time the sonar-esque intro to "Svefn G Englar" off 2001 Shortlist Prize winner ¡gÊtis Byrjun was played, the entire crowd was in the palm of Birgisson's hand. More songs from the debut ensued, as well as a heavy presence from the new, nameless album, ( ), continuing the awe-inspiring audio display. The quiet/loud dynamic of the quartet, the array of instruments, from bow-played guitar to strings to keyboards and xylophone and the amazing vocal range of the singer added up to sheer grand majesty. It was truly an amazing show and I can't implore you enough to go see Sigur Ros the first chance you get.