From Iceland — Nature Grabs You by the Back of the Neck

Nature Grabs You by the Back of the Neck

Published August 11, 2006

Nature Grabs You by the Back of the Neck

The last weekend of July, you couldn’t help but think that thanks to visionaries like Andri Snær Magnason and Sigur Rós you’d have to be a complete moron to support big industry in Iceland. This in spite of that fact our government has decided to let sleeping dogs lie while continuing to attack nature and its resources. If you can believe it, with one sweeping concert, Sigur Rós effectively raised the question, “What do we desire as a country?” Is it wealth? Are we going to consume until there is nothing left to consume? Are we going to continue to push “the ends justify the means” until there are no ends or until there is only “the end”?
I had just arrived by taxi at Öxnadalur, a beautiful place just outside Akureyri. Cars were piled up as Icelanders engaged in a favourite local tradition… the celebrated tradition of getting free stuff. A free concert is something we Icelandic people cherish. I got out of the taxi hearing an unnamed song from Sigur Rós (it’s not that I don’t know the name of the song, just that, of course, it is actually unnamed). The weather was beautiful. People were standing, laying and sitting in the grass surrounded by mighty mountains. Children were running, dogs were barking, the Icelandic flag was waving. In the middle of all this there was a small stage and on that stage stood a band that could have been part of the cast of Lord of the Rings. Amiina and Sigur Rós were there playing their hearts out, or whatever it is that elves and dwarves have that make their bodies tick. I looked at the 2,000 people gathered there, and their faces registered clear awe, amazement and joy.
Sigur Rós played for the nature that could one day cease to exist. I’m not sure that every person there was thinking consciously of the significance of that, but I’m sure each and every person felt it. People felt the closeness of nature as it grabbed the back of their necks and screamed, “I made you. Do you really wanna fuck me up?”
Amiina, the supporting band on Sigur Rós’s recent tour, is an excellent addition. Looking like dwarves, Amiina banged xylophones, strummed and plucked violins, and did whatever was needed to complete the heavenly sound of Sigur Rós. In the encore the dwarf violin players went crazy as Sigur Rós reached gigantic heights during one of their famous climaxes.
In the end, Sigur Rós applauded the audience, showing they were one of us. But it was apparent they were not. They are obviously elves. Small mythical creatures that taunt, create beauty and bring joy to those deserving. If somebody attacks their beautiful forests or their lakes or their waterfalls they’re going to attack. Not with the brutality of the Orcs. But with lyrical and harmonising beauty of the elves, which is much deadlier. The effect was mesmerising and a little dumbfounding. As one of my friends whispered in my ear, “They could tell us to mow all the grass and we would hop to it.”
If they ask us to protect that grass, the memory of the concert may go a long way to achieving it.

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