Tuesday, May 04, 2010

and in this corner...

Please don't judge, but while I do subscribe (in the receive in my inbox sense) to Rob Breszny's Free Will Astrology horoscopes, I don't necessarily subscribe to astrology on deeper level, than, say, a little chuckle at the familiarity of matters mentioned. Little did I know that when I received my last fateful horoscope, exactly HOW freakishly accurate it would be.

And I quote:

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Mangosteens and rambutans are exotic fruits
that grow in faraway places. The mangosteen is creamy and purple, with a
peachy citrus taste, while the rambutan is like a big hairy red grape. This
is a perfect moment, astrologically speaking, to invite them into your
mouth. Likewise, the time is right for you to consider welcoming other
colorful, striking, and foreign elements into your life. So maybe consider
making friends with a Paraguayan acrobat. Sing Vietnamese folk songs.
Read the memoirs of an Iranian exile. Exchange conspiracy theories with
an Icelandic fairy.

Bear in mind, that I kept this particular horoscope because I thought that it was cute to liken my Swedish Adventure to eating hairy rambutans. And he mentioned Icelandic fairies there at the end! And boy, do I like Iceland! When I relayed the content of this horoscope to Sexy Swedish Sandra she thought it boded well for our forthcoming adventures together and then went on to tell me how she has been listening to Jónsi's new album on repeat and recommended I do the same.

Since I saw Sigur Ros' Heima a little over a year ago, I have developed a deep soft spot for their music. Even though I had decided to go to Iceland already, the combination of the music and the visuals along with their celebration of nature and repurposing abandoned structures as places for performances - gave me an Epiphany of Icelandic Rightness. I knew. Jónsi, lead singer of Sigur Ros, recently released his first solo album and there was a whole lot of hubbub over the insane-awesomeness of the production of his live show. And if you can't be bothered to watch that stuff, bottom line: they were inspired by a. the song's connection to animals themes b. photographs they had seen of a famous Parisian taxidermy shop after if BURNED DOWN.

Holy dreaminess!

Goldberg mentioned that Jónsi was coming to town and he would try to get us tickets. I haven't been to a show in nearly two years on account of the vast contingent of drunk, violent idiots with free-flying elbows and an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. I love rubbing up against sweaty teens as much as the next girl, so unless you are gonna really attempt to knock me out, I'll stay home. No I don't care that you can get tickets! Really!

Though it seemed really tempting (despite being at my least favorite venue ever), it wasn't looking likely anyway. So I shrugged. Both Sandra and Goldberg said to me, you should really just find a way to give Jónsi your book... blah blah blah, you were inspired by Heima, it is a book about Iceland and places they played, they thought he'd like it. I thought: silly! And nerdy! I'm not some crazed fan girl. Still they pressed, despite it looking like only Goldberg going.

And then by some mystery of fate, I got picked up and escorted to the door, handed a ticket....

And an Aftershow Pass.

I still did not find attempting to go and present Jónsi with the gift of my book a very good idea, though the door had been opened. There was much hemming and hawing. Goldberg and I entered the Electric Factory to find a very small crowd - apparently they had capped ticket sales at 1,000 - though the venue at capacity holds more than 3,000. It was rather easy to slip straight to the front, stage left, just below a broken, charred glass 'display case' which was a surface for later projections. The crowd was clearly pumped and pleasant - thankfully a bit older, mellower and nerdier than the audience cross-section I had been dreading.

The show started almost a bit too mellow, on an acoustic note, that felt a lot like Sufjan Stevens. The scrims that draped the back had old engravings of animals projected on them and by the end of the song, projected flames had engulfed them, and almost magically they disappeared to reveal a twisted framework of charred and broken industrial warehouse windows, with more scrims beyond. Networks of butterflies, swirls of fireflies, a floe of lava, animated predators and their prey, armies of ants carrying victorian trophies, a burst of fiery trumpet vines with hummingbirds hovering... all while being lulled by his angelic falsetto, against a swirl of sometimes unidentifiable instruments. Including something completely hidden that was being played from above with two violin bows as well as something that sounded like metal being scratched on a chalkboard.

(Aside: It was fairly early on in the show I saw an FB note from Lovely Eva - one of the owners of the beloved Hotel Djupávík in Iceland, where both Sigur Ros played (in the adjacent abandoned factory) and I later stayed with Sandra. Eva had written how wonderful it was that I was getting to see Jónsi's show and that her husband had become friends with him while they were playing the show in 2006 and they both adore him. And there the book I had brought with me, on the cover! Eva, in the factory where they played in Heima! It was RIGHT! I should give it to him!)

The show was so vibrant and exciting, it lifted you and brought you down gently and then it made every hair on your body vibrate. Both of us got a little emotional. Ok, I wept a little, people. I ain't ashamed! They seemed so JOYFUL up there playing. You couldn't help but feeeeeel it.

They returned after the final song for two encores. The final song was so raucous, much like Sigur Ros' signature closer, but this time accompanied by effects so realistic and stirring, I literally felt like I was stuck in the middle of a wild, musical-thunderstorm - so much did I expect to feel the wetness of the rain I was seeing projected before me, the bolts of lightning, the winds, the steam rising off an imagined warm street - I was surprised I wasn't soaked at the end. The crowd went insane after this. Incredibly intense all the way around. Far and away my best show-going experience ever.

(Since I did not have a photo pass, I will just post one of Goldberg's photos from last night, though it is difficult to do justice to the amazingness of what we witnessed in one still - plus Jónsi has posted the whole series of them on his tour journal.)

Jónsi 11 © Michael Alan Goldberg

Post-show, feeling a bit spent, we hung out until we were escorted to the green room where approximately 25ish other people were waiting. Jónsi made quite an entrance and was immediately ensconced in people who he seemed to know rather well. Goldberg and I lingered awkwardly behind a piano for quite some time, attempting to judge the best moment to make The Move. When he broke away to refill his champagne I made a beeline for him. Awkwardly. Introduced myself, and in quick succession told him how my having seen Heima had moved me so much I knew I had to go to Iceland and I wanted to give him my book of photographs that I made while I was there. And I went to Djúpavík and I met Eva while I was there and she says hello! And my boyfriend interviewed you for Philly Weekly last week and that is him over there, come meet him and what an amazing show. Congratulations! Then he started to look at the book, congratulating me on releasing a book and telling me I had to have it in bookstores! In Iceland! Then he starts massaging the book cloth. And then while congratulating me again, he alternately starts beating me and then Goldberg on the arms with the book. Repeatedly. Excitedly and cheerfully so. Laughing maniacally. And thanking me profusely. And we laugh and cower. And he smacks us a bit more. Then he reaches for some champagne and he goes looking for his cup. And we run away. Not sure if he intended to come back. But we stumbled out asking each other what had just happened.

And therein, my horoscope had just become a bit more real. One of the most surreal experiences of my life. I am trying to picture him in the tour bus with his cute little Alex sipping tea the next morning, looking it over. But I cannot be sure it didn't end up in some corner of the Electric Factory, hidden by empties. Not in a million years what I would have expected such a whirlwind of a night.

Let me tell you Rob Breszny: I have tasted mangosteens already, but nothing could prepare me for the punch that Icelandic Jónsis pack.

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