I’m struggling to find words to adequately describe the event I witnessed the other night, because it was not just a “show.” By all means it was a “performance,” but it was more than that. Sigur Rós came to Portland, and yes, they were on a stage, but trying to summarize what they do as merely a show, or performance, minimizes the grandiosity.
The music seems deceptively simple. The thundering drums and screams of the guitars are impossibly blended with the haunting and ethereal vocals of Jónsi, which float above the music. Is it operatic? In some ways, I suppose it is. Is it theatrical? It is performance, but there is no acting. The audience is witness to a rollercoaster of emotional outpouring by Jónsi, who at times moved to the side of the stage to scream out into the darkened crowd, so full of emotion that he needed to release in the most primal of ways. At others, he was almost childlike, siting cross-legged on the stage, bent over the guitar in his lap, facing away from the audience.
There were moments when I had tears in my eyes from the beauty of the experience. Sometimes it was a light beauty, sometimes dark, but it was impossible to be in that auditorium and not feel moved. There were only two words spoken by Jónsi to the audience, which were “thank you,” but those were the only ones we needed, because we could all feel and see exactly what he wanted to communicate. At the end, there was no encore, just a revisiting of the stage with the back screen illuminated with the word “Takk.” But really, Sigur Rós, it is us who should say Takk…þakka þér kærlega fyrir. Thank you… thank you very much.