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Sigur Ros lands in New Orleans

Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros touched down at The Saenger Theatre on Sunday for an immersive performance that seemed to come from the far reaches of the universe.  The band specializes in a unique form of music that sounds like nothing else conceived on this earth, played with the confidence and precision of a band that has spent the past two decades perfecting their sound.  Over the course of two hours, the band patiently crafted ethereal soundscapes that often started as hushed whispers and ended as explosive anthems.  The collective catharsis of the night was palpable from start to finish.

Hailing from Reykjavik, the members of Sigur Ros craft lush, orchestral experimental rock music that defies easy categorization.  Lead singer Jónsi Birgisson has a painfully beautiful falsetto that he employs to great effect by singing in both Icelandic and a language of his own creation referred to as “Hopelandic.”  Jónsi utilizes a cello bow to coax otherworldly sounds out of his guitar while his bandmates craft a tapestry of sound that weaves together downtempo electronic rhythms, gently played piano melodies, fuzzy bass lines, and acoustic guitars.  The resulting combination is greater than the sum of its parts and truly unlike anything else in the world.


Every component of the show was purposefully planned, from the droning buzz that hovered above the crowd while they took their seats to the mesmerizing light show that accompanied each song.  Sigur Ros tours infrequently, and they strive to bring something new to their devoted fanbase each time they head out on the road.  This time around the band unveiled a massive lighting rig that morphed and adapted to the music with blinding strobe lights, gigantic projections of hypnotic shapes, and a constantly shifting backdrop.  The first few songs were played in near darkness as the visual backdrop slowly came to life with rolling thunderclouds illuminating the band.  The shape-shifting backdrop was nothing short of entrancing throughout the night; at times the band appeared to float over the stage amidst the constantly shifting environment.

For this tour, the band was pared down to the core trio in an effort to capture the raw magic at the heart of Sigur Ros. Even with only three members, the band managed to bring the music to epic heights that at times sounded as cacophonous as a full symphony orchestra.  The show ended on the chaotic "Popplagið," with the dizzying stage rig on full display in a wash of technicolor beauty.  A deafening wall of feedback enveloped the theater as the band calmly left the stage, retreating back to the darkness they came from.

Shane Colman writes about music for NolaVie. Email him at shane@nolavie.com. Follow him on Twitter @canesholman and on Instagram at shawncoolman.