If you and I ever attend the same concert, we should hang out. I'm not saying that because I'm fun to hang out with (which I am), I'm saying that because I always meet the most interesting people. This past Friday at Sigur Rós' show at The Mann Center was no different.
My best friend, whom I affectionately refer to as my wife, ended up joining my photographer Kate Harrold and me at the show. After the fourth song, Kate and I went up to the lawn area to hang with my wife and our other friends for a bit.
The lawn at The Mann Center is pretty big, so I texted my wife to get her location. Normally, when you ask somebody what their location is, you ask them where they are in relation to something else. Like, "How far away are you from Wawa?" Or, "Are you to the left or the right of the beer stand?" On Friday night, the thing that stood out the most on the lawn wasn't a thing, but a girl in a glowstick hula hoop.
Mind you, Sigur Rós, an experimental post-rock band from Iceland, is not the kind of music you would typically associate with glowsticks. With eleven people on stage, including an assortment of string and horn players, going to a Sigur Rós concert is much more like going to the orchestra than it is going to a rave.
When I asked my wife where she was in relation to Hula Hoop Girl, she goes, "What do you mean? That's me." Little did we know that actually would end up being her later that night.
Sigur Rós' set lasted just over an hour and a half -- which is pretty long, but at the same time, way too short. I headed back up to the lawn to be with my friends for the last couple songs.
Between the second to last and last song, Hula Hoop Girl runs across the lawn spinning her glow hoop around her arm. My wife and I started clapping. We weren't clapping to be mean. We were clapping because she was filled with joy, we were filled with joy, and clapping just seems like the appropriate thing to do when you're filled with joy. (That is, if you don't have a hula hoop in your hand.)
Hula Hoop Girl smiles at us and comes prancing over.
My wife throws her hands in the air in jubilation. In a single motion, Hula Hoop Girl puts her hoop over my wife's arms, down her body, and back up and over again. She crowned my wife. Then, just as quickly as Hula Hoop Girl approached, she left, galloping away into the night.
I love Hula Hoop Girl, whoever she is. She provided me with the absolute perfect description of what it's like to go to a Sigur Rós concert. Here's why being crowned with a glowing hula hoop is like seeing Sigur Rós live:
1. Impressive visual element: The visual element of the glowing hula hoop is obvious. But if you're not familiar with Sigur Rós concerts, let me clue you in.
They're phenomenal. I mean, as if it wasn't enough to be moved by the ethereal falsetto vocals of Jónsi Birgisson (Sigur Rós' lead singer) or by the band's dynamic orchestration, throughout the entire concert a cinematic video montage plays on screen in the background. The screen spans the length of the stage. With each new song, a new montage plays. You might see raindrops that sizzle like dancing fireworks or an undulating ocean that submerges you in an icy underworld. The impressionistic montages are inspired, creative, and difficult to put into words. But if you scroll through my slideshow, you can peep a couple of these majestic treats yourself.
2. Unique instrumentation: Like Hula Hoop girl, Jónsi, also uses a unique instrument. However, instead of a hula hoop, he uses a cello bow. On his guitar. If other people tried to do something as different as this, they would probably seem awkward, like they were trying too hard. But with Hula Hoop Girl and Jónsi, their instrument of choice wasn't awkward; it was more like an extension of their body. It made perfect sense.
3. Being surrounded by glowing light: I'm no longer talking about visuals here. I'm talking about what being surrounded by a glowing light feels like.
It feels uplifting. Divine. Transcendental. Whether you're being crowned with a glowstick orb, or whether you're being mesmerized by an all-encompassing spectacle of light and sound, what you're experiencing with your physical senses is nothing compared to what you're experiencing with your sixth sense. You sail away to another universe, soaring upon Jónsi's angel-like vocals, as you rise and fall with a crescendoing, climactic, exquisitely crafted soundscape.
You go somewhere that's out of this world, but there's no place you'd rather be.