Paul Wellman

Sigur Rós

Icelandic Storm Session at Santa Barbara Bowl on April 7

In this year of long-awaited relief from drought, it seemed appropriate that the opening night of Bowl season would be blessed with a double helping of atmosphere. From the heavens, a light drizzle descended, giving the enthusiastic crowd an opportunity to show off their rain gear, even if that just meant a transparent plastic poncho. From the stage, the Icelandic post-rock group Sigur Rós poured down an equally atmospheric deluge of sound in two long sets that explored the entirety of their multi-decade career.

Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Knowledge of the Icelandic language is not required to enjoy the rich, otherworldly sound of Sigur Rós. In fact, when it comes to tracks from their 2002 album ( ), it might be a liability, as those songs, four of which were included on Friday night, were written in “Hopelandic,” the gorgeous nonsense language that singer and guitarist Jónsi uses when he’s composing. Highlights included the enormous waves of sound in the instrumental bridge section of “E-Bow,” which came fourth in set one, and a stomping, ferocious version of the title track from 2013’s Kveikur at the climax of set two. The overall coherence and mystical sense of rightness of a Sigur Rós performance is thoroughly enhanced by an astonishing set and light show, making them one of the truly unmissable live experiences in contemporary music.

Set 1


“Ekki Múkk”






Set 2




“Ný Batterí”






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