Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sigur Rós @ Bank of America Pavilion

I saw Sigur Rós for the first time about three years ago at the Orpheum Theatre, on the Takk... tour. Last night's show at the Bank of America Pavilion reinforced my opinion that this is a band that was made to play indoor venues, particularly of the old theatre variety. The performance was great, of course, but the acoustics of an outdoor venue, while less than ideal for just about any artist, really detract from the sound of a band like this. That is, one that relies on such richly sprawling and atmospheric soundscapes. Of course, the fact that the Pavilion is on the waterfront, and the temperature dipped below 50, didn't help matters either.

I've said this before, but I'm now more convinced than ever that, once an act reaches a certain level of popularity, they're no longer worth seeing. That is, unless they're Neil Young, of course. I felt like I was at Fenway Park with the steady stream of people getting up and down from their seats, climbing over me as they worked their way to the end of the row. This was in stark contrast to the Orpheum show, which felt about as close to a night at the opera as one can get at a rock concert.

Then there was the guy sitting in the row behind me, who asked if the opening act, a decent but fairly boring band called Parachutes, was Sigur Rós. When told no, his response of "Are we sure?" was curious, considering when Sigur Rós did take the stage, he seemed to know the name of every song. His attempt at pronouncing them was quite amusing though, not that I would claim to know how. It's just that, I'm willing to admit that I have no idea how to say "Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur". Of course, the fact that I even had to listen to this annoying banter is further evidence that the "lowest common denominator" theory was in full effect at this show.

All in all, the show wasn't really disappointing, but the bar was set pretty high with the last one. They played a nice mix of their older and darker material, such as a couple of excellent choices from ( ), as well as a healthy dose of songs from the newer and brighter Takk... and Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust. However, if I have any advice to offer, it's that you have to check them out at somewhere like the United Palace Theater in New York, where they played the two previous nights.


  1. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who was annoyed by the constant stream of people having to get up and disrupt every single person in the row. Additionally we had a person behind us who was at one point giving a dissertation about god knows what, talking OVER the music... Very annoying. I saw them at the Orpheum as well, and it was a MUCH different experience in regards to the people and the respect the audience had for the band.

  2. Wow! It sounds like you were practically sitting next to me.

  3. Your theory about a band's popularity making them no longer worth seeing is right on. Maybe that's why the Replacements were always worth seeing. They never made it into the mainstream and their shows were always at smaller venues.

    I have always enjoyed seeing bands play in bars. Smitty and I had the opportunity to see Westerberg in a Buffalo bar. Smitty was just a pup then (maybe 19), and he had no idea what he witnessed - intimate setting, tight band, and Westerberg with a chip on his shoulder. It was stunning.

    The other exception to your theory might be Springsteen. I saw him play the Buffalo Aud in '84 - at the height of the Born in the USA (the absolute worst friggin' Springsteen release) popularity. It was a catharsis.

  4. I think it's safe to say that Bruce is your Neil Young.

  5. Bruce = Neil - yeah that works. I had a chance to see Young in...'85. In fact I back to back nights caught REM and then Neil. Let's see that was the 'Fables of the Reconstruction' or 'Reconstruction of the Fables' depending on your level of dyslexia, so that makes it which tour for Neil? All I know is that to this day that night's version of 'Down By the River' has stuck with me.

  6. I guess that would be the International Harvesters Tour, in support of Old Ways...not exactly Neil's best work. Then again, that pretty much describes him in the 80s.

  7. That same night I saw The Swell Season (1st time) at The Agganis Arena. Very similar experience. I don't understand the hustle and bustle people... sit down...or stand & sway but stop getting up for popcorn (Popcorn! For chrissakes!). We had to move from the floor seats to the ...I dunno what they are called... sloping ones so we could see the stage. Poor planning there Agganis. But while we could see better we had a woman obsessing with her phone next to us the entire time and it didn't seem to matter that EVERYONE around her was visibly and vocally annoyed ("shut that thing off" and people poking her from afar with their posters). She ignored everyone as if she could not hear or see anything but her phone. She wasn't talking on it but texting and the light was like...well it was like having a bright light shine in your face in the dark. I just don't understand why you would pay money to go to a show and then ignore the show. She never even clapped. Maybe she got dragged there but in that case go stand in the lobby...get yourself some popcorn.
    Otherwise the show was amazing. I'd go see them again but it would depend on the venue. Really, I don't think the music itself even warrants an "arena" ... it's folksy grown up music that belongs in a small dark room.