Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sigur Ros - Comerica Theater, Phoenix, Arizona April 2013

Sigur Ros's performance was an incredibly deep experience and very different from most concerts I've seen. As people who are familiar with their music know, the music is more orchestral than rock, but they use guitars and drums, along with lots of keyboards, strings, and horns to get their trademark ethereal spaciness.  And the vocals are not in English, they just sound like sounds. Its hard to describe the experience in words and that's part of what makes it so intriguing and powerful.  The music seems to really bring out a lot of emotions in people, but because its just abstract sound (and images when you are watching their stage show), it forces the listener to put their own meaning on it.  I think even people who are not all that inclined to be philosophical are guided towards that kind of experience and that speaks to the mastery of sound that Sigur Ros holds.  They know how to use sound to create an environment conducive to getting past a lot of psychologic barriers that most of us walk around with everyday.  I found it very therapeutic.

My wife is a tough cookie, a Midwestern farm girl without a lot of patience for stuff that is arty or indirect.  She likes things that get right to the point and she's got a pretty strong wall of defenses up for stuff she thinks is bullshit.  It can be hard to get through to her soft inner core.  Let me tell you that within the first song, the tears were flowing and  she was weeping almost all the way through the show.  Afterwards she described an incredibly cathartic experience of reliving almost her entire life, hopes, dreams, hurts, triumphs, loss, love, in short, the whole human experience.

The music seems to deal with things that are common to all humans, regardless of what culture or what point in time you are from.  Everyone is born, everyone dies, everyone breathes, eats, sleeps, dreams, etc.  They seem to get right to the fundamental elements of being human.  I wonder if coming from such a desolate and isolated place where there is mostly air, water, rock and fire has given them the kind of culture that allows them to do this with their music.  Human relations must be really valued in a place like that and perhaps they take more joy and pleasure in simple human interactions than people who live in cosmopolitan places do?

Its unlikely that anyone in the audience at a Sigur Ros show has taken psychedelics, but for me, a Sigur Ros concert is extremely psychedelic.  I didn't take any psychedelics (and its been years since I have) but I sure felt like I had.  At times I felt completely connected to something bigger than myself and at other times I felt completely alone in the universe.  That kind of existential dichotomy is exactly what my experiences taking psychedelics have been like, deeply spiritual, sometimes disturbing, sometimes euphoric, always cathartic.  I never took psychedelics to entertain myself, I always took them in order to have a transformative experience which is something else that I believe all humans crave, no matter what methods they use to alter their consciousness.  A Sigur Ros show is so far beyond mere entertainment.  Joseph Campbell would have loved seeing them as much as he loved seeing the Grateful Dead. This is art music of the highest caliber.  For me, Sigur Ros are achieving the highest purpose of art, to create an atmosphere and a sensory experience that is conducive to the audience having an opportunity to reflect on their own humanity and the nature of existence.  It was fucking awesome.