Sigor Rós at the Brixton Academy

Darren and I were completely jazzed when we heard Sigor Rós were bringing their tour to London. In 2008, we saw Sigor Rós at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA, and it was probably the most amazing concert I’d been to in my life (and I’d like to think I’ve been to some good ones). It was a Friday in early October. The weather was just starting to turn in the Bay Area, and it had been raining a bit earlier in the day. We drove up to Berkeley from the Peninsula just after commute hours, but the freeways were still busy, and a tad bit treterous in the rain (anyone who’s driven in the rain in California will appreciate how challenging and freightening this can be!). We both brought our winter jackets along because we’d been to a show at The Greek, an outdoor venue, in August of the same year, and by the end of the evening we were absolutely freezing–we’d completely underestimated how far the San Francisco fog travels.

The Sigor Rós show at The Greek was sold out, and we’d timed our arrival pretty close to the start of the opening act. We essentially had just enough time to locate our seats and get comfortable (as far as sitting on concrete goes). Sigor Rós’ set was absolutely magical. It really was one of the most emotionally moving concerts I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, and this is what I was looking forward to this past Thursday.

I was eagerly anticipating Sigor Rós taking the stage.

Electronica act Blanck Mass opened the evening. Admittedly, I’d never heard of him, but a quick search on Wikipedia indicates that in addition to opening for Sigor Rós on their UK tour, one of his tracks was used during the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. His music was OK, but I’m not sure if it really set the mood quite right. It was some ambient electronica music, that while nice for relaxing at home, isn’t the best at getting a crowd jazzed for the act ahead, which might explain why so many people filtered in after his set, and those who were there continued to merrily chat away.

Sigor Rós took the stage just after 8 p.m. I have to admit, that while I like Sigor Rós, I’m not overly familiar with their music–especially anything that isn’t from Ágætis Byrjun. So I have no idea which song they opened with, but it was good, and set the tone for the evening.

The light show was the best part of the concert.

One issue I had with the show was that we were only able to procure standing tickets. I’m only 5 feet, 3 inches tall, and I wanted to stick near the back of the venue in case I needed to exit quickly, and to keep myself from being crushed by other concert goers. Unfortunately, it meant I could see nearly nothing (the photo above is the best depiction of what I could see–and that was with my hands above my head). The good news was that the quality of the light show meant I was still able to take in a lot of the visuals without having complete visibility, but there were details that I couldn’t take in very well. For example, I distinctly remember seeing Jónsi Birgisson take a bow to his electric guitar during the show at The Greek–seeing this live really helped me connect the dots to the music last time, but that just wasn’t possible this time around.

Overall, this show fell a bit flat for me. The build-up to the show was completely different than it was in 2008. This time, I traversed South West London via a packed train and Tube with little more than some cash and my phone (not even the company of Darren). In 2008, we had a 50-mile journey together which involved crossing the Dumbarton Bridge, listening to Sigor Rós in the car, and devouring British candy we picked up at the posh grocery store in Menlo Park. Nothing about the show in the Brixton Academy felt magical, while the show at The Greek moved me emotionally. Yeah, the light show was amazing, but the music didn’t resonate the same way it did at The Greek. As Darren said, it was like listening to a favorite album when the mood isn’t quite right, and it sounding boring instead.

Even though I wasn’t thrilled with their show at the Brixton Academy, I’d get tickets to a future Sigor Rós gig. But next time, I’ll make sure I have a seat, and that we psych ourselves up appropriately before the show.

Have you seen Sigor Rós live? What did you think? Tell me in the comments!