Sigur Ros with Amina at Massey Hall, May 13. Tickets: $37-$42. Attendance: 2,700. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Twenty minutes into Sigur Rós's Massey Hall performance, I was squirming in my seat trying to find a comfortable position for a nap.
This is beautiful music that makes good movie soundtracks (for really bad movies), but it's not the kind of thing I need to see live. Live, Sigur Rós are boring.
Jon Thor Birgisson 's wailing, ethereal falsetto is impressive and beautiful for about five minutes, then becomes tedious and works its way to torturous. A headache-inducing drone underlies every song. The lyrics are repetitive and, as a bonus, unintelligible due to my inability to speak Hopelandic, Birgisson's own made-up language. (Isn't that just so precious you couldn't even sell it on eBay?)
Accompanied onstage by opening girl quartet Amina on tinkly xylophones and strings, the band exuded absolutely zero stage presence, never speaking to the audience and hardly moving except to switch instruments from time to time, which sometimes required walking across the stage, providing moments that gave the illusion of action. This made me sit up in my seat, starving for any sort of distraction, only to hunch down and sigh as the band launched into yet another barrage of tinkle, fuzz and drone.
A roadie rushing out to wipe something up was the evening's most exciting moment, easily the highlight of the night. The multimedia elements included a screen projecting abstract images (of course) and slow-motion shots of a little girl running through a meadow. And a disco ball.
Slightly more entertaining was Amina's opening set, in which the girls played strings, a saw, wine glasses, bells and computers to create some lovely if overly long tunes. The innovative instruments and lack of heavy mood lighting were enough to keep me awake, at least.
After an hour of Sigur Rós, a few people grabbed their stuff and left, which made me feel a bit less alone, but most of the audience was absolutely rapt. Those who love Sigur Rós really love them and will sit quietly, drinking in every note and every ethereal nuance.
It was heaven for them, but purgatory for me.