Sigur Rós at Lollapalooza, 8/5/12

Sigur Rós at Lollapalooza, 8/5/12
Photo by Erik Hess

By Abbie Gobeli

Best of Lollapalooza day three: At the Drive-in, Florence + the Machine and more
[Slideshow] Lollapalooza 2012 Day One: The Music
[Slideshow] Lollapalooza 2012 Day Two: The Music
[Slideshow] Lollapalooza 2012 Day Three: The Music
[Slideshow] Lollapalooza 2012: The People

Sigur Rós
Lollapalooza at Grant Park, Chicago
Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sigur Rós unleashed a baptism of ethereal beauty that blanketed the tightly packed occupants of Lollapalooza's Red Bull stage on the final day of Lollapalooza. The four members recruited eight other musicians to recreate the band's heavenly sound -- including a brass section and airy background vocals.

"Svefn-g-englar," opened the performance, and slowly synched into church organ, subtle breezes of white noise, and a single repeated note that brightly rippled through the carefully layered soundscape. Frontman, Jónsi Birgisson literally licked his guitar strings -- delivering the last reverberating chords. They flawlessly transitioned into "Varúð" from their recently released sixth album,


. This lovely six-minute piece emulated enormous orchestral waves crashing with a drumming undercurrent combined with a dark, hollow synth. Resonating vocals seeped in chanting "Varúð" gently floating to the top of the surface.

Jónsi slowly motioned to the crowd to vocalize with him to "Saeglopur." As he gestured with his right hand, a row of decorated tassels dangled from the sleeve of his purple tunic. The audience quickly complied howling "oohs" in response. His face looked determined as he unveils unearthly pure falsettos.

Sigur Rós is unique in that each instrument played is treated in some unorthodox manner -- but is vital to the core of their sound. Jónsi bows his Les Paul guitars and drummer, Orri Páll Dýrason uses two differently sized kick drums. In "Hafsól," Georg Hólm vigorously taps his bass guitar with a drumstick while Jónsi completely shreds his cello bow and tosses it out into the yelping multitude of people.
Sigur Rós at Lollapalooza, 8/5/12
Photo by Erik Hess

Jónsi rapidly said something in Icelandic including, "Takk fyrir" meaning "Thank you" before he and Georg exchange an eager grin while he grabs his cherry red Les Paul guitar. They continued on to "Hoppípolla," from their 2005 album, Takk..., which translates as "Jumping into puddles" in Icelandic. Though Sigur Rós combines Icelandic and Hopelandic, a language made up by the band with no semantic connotation other than it compliments their powerfully charged sound, there was no language barrier when it came to the music.

They closed with "Popplagið," a surprisingly heavy in lo-fi guitar that wails above the haphazardly falling current of instrumentation. The beaming 12 musicians bowed in curtain call fashion with Jónsi happily blowing kisses to the audience while they gasped for more.

The Crowd: Cheering, crying, and breathless with approval.

Random Detail: If you walked any distance away from the stage, rapper J. Cole's booming set from the polar opposite side of the park was in your ears.

Olsen Olsen  
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