Elevated by Sigur Ros at Cedar Park Center

11 Apr


When Zack and I rolled up to Cedar Park Center at 7:32PM, we figured we’d arrived just as the doors were opening. But after we picked up our tickets at Will Call and made our way into the stadium, we realized the lights were already out and the opener, Oneohtrix Point Never, was on the stage. So to find our seats, we had to follow an usher’s little flashlight along the ground that would occasionally go out, causing uneasy steps in the pitch black*. Because I was trying to avoid stepping on toes or tripping on anything, my head was down and my eyes groped in the dark after Zack and the usher, and I didn’t realize how closely we were approaching the stage. When we finally got to our row, I looked up, and realized I was 6 feet from the stage, third row, center. I knew logically this was my seat, but it didn’t sink in until Zack and I plopped down and looked at each other, eyes wide and mouths grinning as big as they ever had. We were finally here, and it was finally time.

*Pretty sweet way to enter a venue. The usher took my ticket in his hand and held on to it the entire walk to our seats. The crasher in me was a little nervous that I no longer had my ticket, but I made sure to get it back when we got to our insanely good spot.

The opener was so-so, just sort of prettily ambient, and when he finished* Zack convinced me to head back out to concessions and merch to grab a water and look at the T-shirts. I promised myself I’d only get one if it was especially amazing … and then I saw it. A grey jersey shirt with shiny silver writing, simply proclaiming “Sigur Ros” on the front and with the tour schedule on the back. It had to be mine, and with one swift swipe of my debit card, it was. Zack was supportive**, as always, of my continued “concert tee habit.”

*We were whispering about whether to leave during his last song, not knowing it was his last one. Then the laptop flipped closed and the decision became easy.

**I mean, she looks so darn cute in them and wears them to bed every night, so they get plenty of use. <–Aww, thanks hon!

sigur ros t

We rushed immediately back to our seats, not really knowing when the band was going on. We ran into my friend from work, and serendipitously ended up sitting two seats away from the couple we’d met waiting for Jack White’s Austin City Limits taping*. At just two minutes past 8:30, the lights went out. The band’s signature screen had been down since we came into the venue, so as they took the stage, their shadows played in front of us. Unlike when I saw the band at Bass Concert Hall in 2006 and was back in the mezzanine, this time I could also clearly see my heroes through the screen, as well. Jonsi’s jacket sleeves were lined with yarn fringe that held pom-poms at the bottom**, and he had a yarn “mohawk” running down his back.

*We were in that Jack White line for almost four hours, so the four of us basically swapped stories from every great concert we’d ever been to and got pretty close. We had to catch each other up on the last few months.

**Anyone else would look pretty ridiculous in this outfit, but it fits Jonsi perfectly.

The entire night seemed to rush by far too quickly, as I continuously thought to myself, “Why can’t this just be my suspended reality?” With Zack’s hand in mine and this band in front of me, and their music in my heart, I would have been content to just live there forever. After a new song for an opener and the epic “Ný batterí” to follow up, the screen fell and the band was fully revealed.

Vine of Jonsi sounding angelic on “Saeglopur.” 

The crowd was a bit of a mixed bag at Cedar Park, which was unsurprising. There was a guy in the front row who flipped his lid for “Svefn-g-englar,” standing up by himself right in front of the stage, and “woo”ing and throwing up rock hands*. After this song? He left for concessions, and barely came back, mostly letting other friends sit in his seat (who were, luckily, far more respectful). There was the groaning guy who sounded like he was having some kind of episode off to the left side of the stadium, just randomly and loudly grumbling, “aaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” occasionally**. Then there was pretty much everyone who tried to destroy Jonsi’s angelic and never-ending “ooo” during “Festival,” but at that point, I had decided to tune out extraneous noise and accept any imperfections of the night as defining moments that simply enhanced the beauty of other moments and made the night, for me, perfect overall.***

*The dude-bro in the first row was almost comical. The entire floor stayed in their seats and he lept up out of his, ran up to the guard rail, threw up the double rock hands and yelled “Woo!” It got the same reaction it would get if he did this at the New York Philharmonic. He then immediately left to get a beer and hot dog. I still think he thinks he was at Bon Jovi. 

**During one beautiful, silent pause some bro yelled “Fucking get after it!” Oof.

***I’m glad Caitlin could look past the dude-bros and let the experience wash over her. It’s tough to do sometimes.

“Festival” was a stand-out for Jonsi’s cooing “ooo” that he sang for what must have been a full 3 minutes — and he doesn’t even breathe in particularly strongly before he performs it. It’s as if he suspends his life as a human, channels himself into some greater power, and just exudes that, letting it slowly envelop every single audience member. It’s like, if you could envision that “ooo” as a soft thread, he releases it long enough to wrap around every individual in the crowd. It is marvelous.

Vine of Jonsi singing into his guitar for “Svefn-g-englar” 

When the band left the stage at first, I thought to myself, they have not played “Glósóli” and they must end with “Popplagið.” When they returned, waving to us in the crowd as they took their places again, these are precisely the two songs they indulged us in. Apart from “Hoppípolla*,” the defining song of the night for me came with “Popplagið.” It was huge, lifting my skin off of me and filling my lungs and making my heart physically swell. It was beautiful and driving and devastating, and it rolled over me like a tsunami. 

*This was my favorite song of the night. It’s such a happy, uplifting song and Jonsi had us all sing back-up near the end, which was pretty magical. 

When it ended and the band had left their guitars scattered, still fuming with a wall of sound, I was whole. Zack and I (and everyone else) stood on our feet to applaud this amazing band, and when they came out, they waved and smiled and stood in a line so they could link up and bow, wiggling their bottoms as they did so. It is disarming, how silly and charming these performers can be, when they are the auteurs of my life soundtrack. Drummer Orri tossed a drum stick into the crowd*, and it landed just to our right — our two-person-down neighbor caught it, and as we were exiting I noticed his hands were shaking. I understood.

*I missed the drum stick throw as I was still transfixed by Jonsi after they came out for their final bow. The sound guys threw a couple more sticks out, but as Caitlin said, it wasn’t meant to be. 

It was thrilling to share this live performance with Zack, and definitely surpassed our Osheaga Sigur Ros concert* because of our location and the band’s access to their full stage show. Before the concert had begun, we joked with my work friend about the over-under on the times I would cry. I picked over on 2.5 times, but Zack won with the under**, as I cried only once, and during the same song that had brought me to tears in Montreal. Even though it has not been historically the most personally meaningful song for me, something about “Hoppípolla” continues to capture me live. Especially, it has become a song that is special for Zack and me together, and as I pointed sheepishly at my eyes as the tears welled, he smiled at me and we shared one of those unforgettable moments that you remember forever.

*I’d say Osheaga was a 9.4/10 and this show was a 9.7. More intimate setting, incredible seats and full set and encore made for an unforgettable show.

**I made the line 2.5, but knew 2 was probably the max. I should have bet doing the dishes on this, but that would have been a silly thing to have a bet on. Thanks for doing them, anyway;)

Zack and I were filled with good emotions as we walked out, and I hugged his shoulders, proclaiming, “I would have loved to go deaf right then, and never hear another sound*. What else can there be?” Of course, there is so much more, and this band reaffirms that for me more than they convince me otherwise. It’s a different feeling, when you get to share one of the most important bands of your life with the most important partner in your life**. I was taken to that elevated place, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever come back down again.

*After my ears rang for five days after Prince, I was happy to be this close to a show and not suffer more hearing damage. It was just glorious.

**It really is the best thing of all.


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