Fox Theater Pomona
It’s interesting how a venue can affect the experience of a band’s performance. Last year, Icelandic, post-rock band Sigur Rós blew the proverbial roof off of the Hollywood Bowl, but last night, they presented their epic musical and visual showcase in the much smaller venue of the Fox Theatre, in Pomona. The result seemed as if the power of the trio (Jón Þór "Jónsi" Birgisson [vocals / guitar], Georg "Goggi" Hólm [bass / keys], and Orri Páll Dýrason [drums / keys]) was somewhat constricted, yet the audience that was permitted by the intimate setting was pretty satisfied.
General admission ticket holders who were familiar with the layout of the Fox Theatre are aware that in order to be able to see the band clearly, they must arrive early. So by the time the doors opened at 7:00, there was a line that stretched around the block. The seated area in the balcony was for VIPs only, and all of the primo viewing areas on the ground level were snatched up quickly. By the time Sigur Rós began playing, at around 8:15 (there was no opening acts), it was already clear who would be able to see well and who wouldn’t.
While the band’s show makes good use of pre-programmed digital video graphics as well as manipulated live video feeds, their usual presentation was pared down to fit the smaller venue. The video that they did use, and their synchronized light show was still quite a spectacle, especially on songs like “Glósóli.” During the song’s crescendo, the video screen depicted a POV shot of a camera flying through clouds, and in the theater, the smoke machines blasted away, with lights hitting them in a way which carried the illusion from the screen onto the stage and into the crowd.
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Another demonstration of their deft use of graphics was during “Smáskifa,” which featured the minimalist approach of having several stylized digital birds fly down and perch upon a wire. As the song went on, the birds continually morphed from their appearance as birds to blobs of white light, and they gradually flew away. As the song concluded, and only drummer / keyboardist Orri Páll Dýrason remained onstage in dim lighting, the last of the digital birds departed to the final strains of the sad but beautiful song.
Highlights of the set included “E-bow,” “Starálfur,” “Vaka,” “Festival,” “Kveikur,” and “Popplagið,” which was their final song and which was highlighted with an intense and frenetic display of strobes, digital graphics, and images of the band members (with intentional digital glitches to make the video look damaged). While the trade-off of an amphitheater for a smaller venue with standing room only (along several level platforms) can cause some inconveniences for the audience and perhaps for the band too (Jonsi seemed a little frustrated adjusting his mic stand once or twice), the music was great, and the audience showed their exhilaration throughout the evening.