Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

Some bands/artists are really intimidating to get into. Sometimes it’s because of their extensive back catalog (like Bob Dylan), others is because of the amount of musical ground they cover (Bowie), and perhaps because an artist has put out some sketchy albums (The Kinks, Brian Wilson). These are artists that usually can’t be confined to a 1 Disc best of, and who wants to buy a best of collection anyways? Personally, it makes me feel really lame, and it’s usually the record label’s idea of what “the hits” are so it’s usually less than satisfying. (Side note: I would think that iTunes and Amazon would make best ofs obsolete by now, but with these NOW compilations still selling millions of albums, most of America does not agree with me.)

The one band that I had a lot trouble getting into is Sigur Ros. They don’t have the most extensive catalog and they’re not genre jumpers, they’re just Icelandic. I’m not racist towards people of Icelandic descent or their music (still loving Bjork). Sigur Ros doesn’t sing in English ( or it’s very rare) and only one of their song titles are in English, which makes it extremely hard to identify their songs. They actually sing in hopelandic, which is basically a tweaked version of icelandic, aka, they sing in a language that is basically made up.  I had tickets for their show and I wanted to be familiar with what they were going to play beforehand, like I would for any concert. It’s not that I wanted to know the set list verbatim, but I wanted to make sure I knew where one song ended and another song started.  I think with a band like Sigur Ros, with their 10 minute opuses, it’s an extremely smart move.

I perused the band’s message board and found some of their setlists for this tour. Because I am not privvy to the Icelandic/Hopelandic language, I could not tell off the top of my head if I had a good majority of these songs in my musical library so deducing what songs I needed to buy from iTunes became a difficult chore: copy song title from message board, paste song title into my iTunes library to see if I already had it, if not, copy song title to iTunes store to buy song. Usually this process is much more basic. It’s looking at the song titles and knowing if I had them or not, there wouldn’t be a need to copy, paste, or even look in my library. Luckily for me, the songs I didn’t have all came from one album, saving me money, but not really saving me any time.

It’s not that I had never heard of the band before. I just usually don’t pay attention to their track names when I listen to their stuff, but I know that after I go to a show, I like to know exactly what was played.  This probably makes me sound like a very casual fan.  I know this band is so amazing live that they’ve made my sister cry (or possibly crygasm), and actually at the show, the girl standing next to me fainted. I had liked what I’ve heard from them, I just hadn’t learned their language and all their song titles (long song titles don’t stick in my brain very long, I’m looking at you Sufjan Stevens). I’m sorry  if I don’t remember Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása off the top of my head or that I have no idea what that means. To look like less of a poseur, I oraganized a playlist on my iPhone with the songs they’d been playing throughout the tour and got really familiar with them. I might even be able to tell you now what song is playing in a really butchered way, like “ooh they’re playing Sagglepuss” (Sæglópur).

I ended up really enjoying the show and I was able to successfully differentiate the songs from each other.  They truly are a band that could bring people to tears and they indeed live up to their reputation.  I still to this day can’t tell you what any of their songs mean, or recite any lyrics for you, but I can probably tell you which album each song is from and I can definitely tell you that I ama fan.

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