There’s nothing ordinary about Sigur Rós—from the way the understated band commands a stage with very little fanfare, to the fact that their fans hang on to every word even though they can’t understand a lick of it. Unfortunately, the American school system doesn’t offer Icelandic as a language option in high school just yet.
But the most extraordinary aspect of the band is its frontman, Jónsi, who has a penchant for military garb and can hit notes that even a pre-pubescent boy would have trouble reaching. The demure singer manages to hold your attention with nothing more than his falsetto, which in one moment seems powerful enough to fill a stadium and in the next quivers, almost like he’s unable to go on. But of course, he always does.
The band hasn’t toured in four years, making last night’s show at Prospect Park even more of a spectacle. The sold-out crowd came early, bustling towards the front of the stage, blankets in hand, to claim their territory. Luckily their promptness allowed them to catch Perfume Genius’ set. Singer Mike Hadreas, who was suffering from a cold, apologized for the shakiness of his already fragile voice, but somehow that just made the songs from his latest album, Put Your Back N 2 It, even more heartbreaking.
Jónsi and crew, complete with a brass section and small orchestra, powered through the night’s nearly two-hour set playing cuts from their latest album, Valtari, while filling the gaps with older hits. But when you see Sigur Rós, you tend not to care about which song they’re playing, since they all tend to meld together as one big long concerto.
There were no crowd sing-alongs; in fact, the most chatting you could hear was over in the food area where servers called out the numbers for whose order was up. From the moment Jónsi brought out his signature cello bow, the crowd was speechless. But in the end, it’s when the band came together as one that made the night more than just another day in the park.