The Bomb Factory, Dallas
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi opened his mouth in silent screams and bent his head nearly to the ground as he played his signature bowed guitar. The Icelandic post-rock trio played for a standing-room-only crowd in the Bomb Factory. The raw emotion on Jónsi’s face was a show in itself, morphing from mournful to passionate to visceral in sync with his ethereal vocals.
For those not close enough to see his face, the concert’s visuals were spectacular. A projection backdrop and glowing, cross-shaped beams displayed abstract imagery at times stormy, geometric and impressionistic, with a different color palette for each piece.
Whenever the music swelled from simplistic piano and vocals to heavier, more industrial rock tones, bright whites shone into the crowd to reveal uplifted, euphoric faces. Sigur Rós has mastered the slow build.
The hipster man-bun demographic of the audience was united as one through shared love of Sigur Rós’ serene melodies, cavernous drums and stirring instrumentation. Joints were passed throughout the 14-song, two-act performance. Jónsi addressed the crowd only once, in a soft, almost timid accent, to dedicate the last song of the first set to music producer Paul Corley, who is from Dallas.
The small talk was not missed during the sets, in which the music ebbed and flowed with only short pauses between each piece. However, some notice of the intermission would have been helpful. When the band abruptly left the stage, house lights came up, and several audience members wondered if the concert was over.
Possibly the best moment of the show was the band’s entrance at the start of the second act. As the lights dimmed, music wafted out from the empty stage, which sank as the backdrop raised to reveal a second stage and projection screen behind the initial setup.
With two sets of projections and the audience's energy renewed from trips to the bar, the second act staggeringly outshone the first. Orri removed his shirt, Jónsi finally went to the edge of the stage to hype the crowd and head-banging spread like the Wave in a sports stadium.
The second act featured mainly darker tracks from Takk… and Kveikur, interspersed with a few from ( ). After six songs and an orgasmic burst of multicolored static on the projection screens, Sigur Rós exited the stage, returning for two curtain calls, but alas, no encore.
Longtime listeners of the band agreed that seeing a live performance took the Sigur Rós experience to the next level. Five-year fan Charlie Wrong, of Denton, said the concert was “everything I thought it would be. I think the energy in the crowd was just beautiful.”
Stefani Blackwell had seen Sigur Rós before at Bass Performance Hall, but Wednesday’s performance still took her breath away.
“I was enthralled by the lights,” she said.
Jake Hedke, of Denton bands Light and Ladder and manintheraw, said he found some inspiration for a new record, and he appreciated the intimacy of the performance.
With no audience banter, no encore and an unannounced intermission, Sigur Rós didn’t give a traditional concert. But the music glowed on its own.