Sigur Rós have never been ones to do things by the book. A post-rock band in the loosest sense of the term, the Icelandic trio has spent the past decade and a half eluding critical backlash simply by thinking far outside the box. Fittingly, their live show has grown to live up to its recorded counterparts by becoming equally ethereal and heavy, dazzling and somber.
On Friday, the Santa Barbara Bowl opened its gates for the second concert of the season and unleashed on its attendees a light show and performance that set the bar high for 2013. A trio in theory, Friday night found bandmembers Jón Þór Birgisson, Georg Hólm, and Orri Páll Dýrason joined by an eight-piece backing band that included three winds and three strings. Working in their signature dramatic fashion, the band stepped onstage shrouded by a three-sided sheer curtain for the newly penned “Yfirborð,” which built from a quietly powerful vocal melody to a galloping, drum-driven number before diminishing completely. It was followed up immediately by the distortion-filled “Ný Batterí,” during which the band ditched the shadow-casting cover for a dizzying collection of stage lights, strobes, and video projections.
Complex and heavy as they may have felt at times, the tunes that made up Friday’s set list worked wonders when paired with the band’s elaborately nuanced light cues and Birgisson’s dizzying falsetto. And for those who bothered to turn their eyes skyward, the night’s clear sky and falling stars undoubtedly helped to further elevate Sigur Rós’s live show to something that, more often than not, felt not of this earth. n
2. “Ný Batterí”
7. “Varúð “
9. “Með Blóðnasir”
10. “Olsen Olsen”