A Grapevine service announcement Take note: Holiday Opening Hours
Culture
Music
Sigur Rós Bring HEIMA To The World

Sigur Rós Bring HEIMA To The World

Words by

Published August 13, 2012

My partner Zoë and I travelled to Iceland in the late spring and as appears to be the case with most visitors, we immediately fell in love with the country and its charming populace. The breathtaking landscapes and unspoiled scenery that dazzled us at every turn of our trip around the ring road had us wishing we could stay longer, or perhaps never leave. We soon found ourselves back home in Toronto resuming our daily routines, and wondering if a return to our new favourite country was ever to be. As luck would have it, we had a chance to enjoy the next best thing this summer.
Formed in Reykjavík nearly twenty years ago, Sigur Rós has blossomed into a world class act and certainly a national treasure. We heard their music played on our Icelandair flight and at many shops and restaurants during our vacation. Having been casual fans for years, Zoë and I naturally ramped up our interest in the band as we toured its spectacular homeland. Sigur Rós provided an apt soundtrack for our adventure, the cathartic nature of the songs propelling us through endless tableaus of inconceivable beauty. Upon returning to Canada, we were thrilled to hear that the band would in turn be paying us a visit.
Only two tracks from ‘Valtari’
Echo Beach, an outdoor venue on Toronto’s waterfront, proved to be a good fit. Once close enough to the stage to block out the mass of corporate branding that dominates much of the 5.000 capacity space, we found ourselves in perfect position to take in the exploits of Jónsi and his accomplices. The expectedly restrained audience was rapt from note one, as the only two offerings from 2012’s ‘Valtari’ LP led off the evening.
“Ekki múkk” seamlessly bridged the ambient sounds that had been playing pre-show, methodically creeping through the speakers with quiet confidence. Three players apiece comprised the string and horn sections that supported the band, with each trio adding subtle texture to “Varúð.” Like a refreshing burst of Nordic ocean air, Sigur Rós breezed into the performance. Muted horn swells followed Jónsi’s bowed guitar introduction of “Ný batterí,” which provided the first spark of the set thanks to Orri Páll’s precise drum hits and some big sci-fi synths.
Travelling without moving
Memories of our trip began flooding back as the night unfolded. An enchanting start to “Í Gær” evoked the windy drive down to Seyðisfjördur, but soon became as dark as the Lofthellir lava cave. Zoë and I slow- danced to the endearingly off-tune “Vaka” as we had while overlooking Jökulsárlón, and Jónsi executed his keyboard and vocals parts with gusto on the ten year-old tune. “Sæglópur” followed, delighting onlookers with its catchy piano riff then making great use of vibraphones as it built hypnotically into textbook post-rock fury. “The very few stylistic contemporaries of Sigur Rós could only dream of putting on this grand a spectacle,” I thought to myself.
Jónsi shone once again on the nautical “Svefn-g-englar,” broad bow strokes and soaring falsetto drawing the crowd into a trance before the bridge burst through to signal a rousing finale.  The proud march of “Hoppípolla” gave way to more flashbacks: the panoramic view from atop Skógafoss, the reveal of sleepy Siglufjörður after a series of taut tunnels. Our recollections were painted all the more vividly by the cinematic quality of the music. “Festival” gave Orri the spotlight as he attacked its eruptive climax with battle-like focus. Georg Hólm tapped out the bass notes of “Hafsól” with a stick, an impressive feat that laid the groundwork for psychedelic fluttery before drummer Orri was once again shot out of a cannon for the peak.
Overwhelming, in a good way
We could have kept listening all night. The encore combo of “Dauðalagið” and “Popplagið” made plain the duality the band expertly wields. While the former suggested a lullaby-laden farewell, the latter jolted us into a chaotic stupor with its prolonged madness. Sigur Rós was at once mysterious, unspeakably gorgeous and overwhelming in the most perfect of ways.
As the band said goodnight, Zoë and I embraced, feeling lucky to be alive and to have experienced all that we have in relation to our wonderful journey. Some places slip easily from one’s conscience after departing their shores, and some remain stuck in the mind uncontrollably. We now have the spirit of Iceland running through our veins, and we couldn’t be happier. We shall return.

Read more from Dan at his blog: www.societyvernacular.com.



Culture
Music
Five Icelandic Christmas Songs That Don’t Suck

Five Icelandic Christmas Songs That Don’t Suck

by and

Like we noted in last year’s Straumur Xmas Special, the holidays can be hard on the ears for folks who have a modicum of taste for decent music. It’s a well-known fact that most Icelandic Christmas songs suck pretty hard, but of course there are always some exceptions. You can add the following to last year’s selection. Skakkamanage “Costa Del Jól” This lost pearl of a Christmas song was released by indie band Skakkamanage (led by Svavar Pétur, the man behind Prins Póló) just before Christmas of 2005 and is named after one of Iceland most popular holiday destination, Costa

Culture
Music
Who Are GANGLY And Why Are They So Great?

Who Are GANGLY And Why Are They So Great?

by

Earlier today, long-time Grapevine contributors Straumur premiered a song/music video by a new, apparently “local” band that calls itself GANGLY. Now, this in itself wouldn’t be that interesting (lord knows there are plenty of bands out there making songs and videos), except for the fact that both song and video are fucking S T U N N I N G ! Here, see and hear for yourself Right? Right? Let’s hear it again: OMG so great! And that video? How could you make that video and not want to tell everyone about it? WEIRD. So who are GANGLY and how can we

Culture
Music
Just Go Join A Freakin’ Snake Cult Why Don’t You?

Just Go Join A Freakin’ Snake Cult Why Don’t You?

by

Just Another Snake Cult have released a weird and awesome new video from their lauded LP “Cupid Makes A Fool Of Me”. Premiered recently in the UK by Clash Magazine, and in Germany by top blog i.am.no.superman, we’re happy to present the Icelandic debut here. Says band mainstay Thor Bogason: “Spell of Platonic Reversal” is our only song that’s survived and evolved through all the band’s lineup changes, remaining a constant part of our live set through the years. At first it surprised me every time people would tell me that the song stood out to them, because when I

Culture
Music
The Best Of What We Saw At Iceland Airwaves 2014

The Best Of What We Saw At Iceland Airwaves 2014

by

Iceland Airwaves 2014 came and went, and oh what a blast it was (it was. It’s crazy. You should come next year). We very much like the Iceland Airwaves festival. Indeed, every year since 2005, we’ve operated a gargantuan team dedicated to reviewing EVERY SHOW by EVERY BAND on the official festival schedule. Through the years, this has proved a fun and often rough process that has resulted in some great writing, several nice quotes for a band’s press kit, a few broken hearts, several heated phone calls and more than one death threat (including that time in the late

Culture
Music
The Accidental Airwaves

The Accidental Airwaves

by

A press pass fell in my lap unexpectedly and I felt compelled to go to the Airwaves festival. Although the pass fell too late for me to catch the only worthwhile show at the festival this year, the one that had Kontinuum following Momentum, who performed after Svartidauði, who, in turn came on after Ophidian I, I still got to see some truly memorable stuff this year. Some by design, and some through pure happenstance. What follows is my recollection: Wednesday to get my groove on On Wednesday afternoon I happened by Bar 11, where Future Figment were playing some

Culture
Music
Sónar Adds SBTRKT

Sónar Adds SBTRKT

by

Sónar festival continues to power up it’s bill, this time adding some impressive firepower in the shape of UK producer SBTRKT (that’s pronounced like the regular “subtract”, rather than a phlegmy, cough-like mumble of “sbtrchkt”, hipster faux-pas avoidance fans). This comes in addition to an already pretty sweet lineup that includes Matrix-villain tween-goth pop idol Skrillex, as well as TV On The Radio, Kindness, Paul Kalkbrenner, Todd Terje, and a whole crop of diverse Icelandic talents. The whole thing is held in Harpa, which will no doubt provide a grim form of entertainment in itself as thousands of sweaty, gurning

Show Me More!