Sigur Ros at the Lincoln Theatre: 11/4/2002

The story is more in the getting there and home than in the concert itself, but I’ll tell you about the concert first, since the trip took longer than the music lasted. The four of us, Jen, Heather, and Steve made the trek downtown for the show. For the uninitiated, Sigur Ros is an Icelandic band. The lead singer has a voice that lives in the octaves above Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke. It’s haunting and downright beautiful. He plays his guitar with a bow about half the time, and can create quite a noise with it, alternatingly gorgeous and horrible. Their drummer is chock full of energy, although his solo was overly repetetive for a drum solo. He was just keeping the beat, only louder.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The opening act was another Icelandic musician who came out in a black t-shirt, armed with an acoustic guitar and a chair. He spoke in English with an outrageous Icelandic accent (Steve said, “Did he justs say, ‘A glass moose eye is glass’?”). Unfortunately, his songs were also sung in English and were completely unintelligible, both because of his accent and the fact that he mumbled like a Nordic Bob Dylan on Valium. I made out the following phrases:

  • Even eagles cry (repeated about a million times)

  • something something… dive into you.. something else something else

  • She had purple eyes… blah blah… Icelandic sky

I would have been OK with a folksy opening act if he weren’t so bad. He constantly messed up changes and when he flubbed, instead of playing over it like he meant to do that (like we would have known the difference), he paused right in the middle of the song, and sometimes said “oopsy”. It was entertaining.

Then… we waited. I don’t know what it is about concert nowadays but why are there always at least 20 minutes between the opening act and the headliner? It happened when we saw No Doubt, and it happened last night too. It’s just stupid. The point of an opener is to warm up the audience. Why do that, if you’re just going to let them cool off for twenty minutes between the two? The stage was already set up for the band, why not just come right on out and get started?

Eventually, Sigur Ros made it to the stage. They had quite a show for it being a smaller theater. They had a huge screen behind them where they played distorted videos of children playing, power lines, a sleeping old man’s face (that was the first and most impressive… uber-creepy). Before I get into how they sounded, I will couch this with the fact that I’ve only ever heard one of their songs and had no idea what to expect. So, my hour with the band was my only exposure, and that may color this commentary. Heather and I really dug the concert. Jen hated it, and Steve said it was “weird”. The only musical comparison I can make is that they sound a little like Radiohead in concert. The lead singer sings in this lilting Icelandic falsetto the whole time (all the lyrics are in Icelandic, which is a pretty melodic language). The music is sometimes overly repetetive, but overall, I really liked their sound. They fell into some classic rock concert traps like overdoing it with the screeching, ear-bleeding feedback when they really didn’t need to, and their set seemed almost too choreographed. They played for maybe an hour, with no encores even though the audience went nuts and the band came out for two bows. Every non-classical, amateur concert I’ve been to since I was 13 has had at least one encore. I was pretty disappointed that bowing counts in their book.

Overall, I give their performance a B. The lighting and screen effects were cool, and I never once thought they should get off the stage (except the extended feedback song… why, Icelandic guys, why?). I probably wouldn’t go see them again, but I may go buy an album or two.

Thus ends the concert report, and begins the horrible trip report

Before I begin, let me give you the stats:

  • Miles: A trip that should have been 60 miles round-trip took almost 150.

  • Drive Time: 1.5 hours planned, 4 hours actual

  • Unintentional Monument / Landmark Sitings / Major Bridge Crossings:

    • The Washington Monument (Jen’s Barometer for how lost we get when we go downtown): 9 – a new Lawver record

    • The Pentagon: 3

    • The Capitol Building: 2

    • Thomas Jefferson Memorial: 1

    • The Key Bridge: 2 crossings (1 was intended, the second was a bonus)

    • The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge: 1 crossing (none intended)

    • The Woodrow Wilson Bridge: 2 crossings (none intended)

    • The State of Maryland: 1 entrance, and thankfully, one exit

  • Major Freeways / Roadways Driven On (unintended/accidental in bold):

    • 495

    • 395

    • 66

    • Route 1

    • Whitehurst Freeway

    • George Washington Parkway (1 intentional, 1 accidental)

    • Route 7: from Falls Church to Tysons Corner

    • The Dulles Toll Road

    • Route 28

Here’s my tip to you, as a freebie: never trust MapQuest‘s driving directions when going into the district. Take my brother Steve and a good map (I recommend the ADC map book). We got so turned around and messed up that it took him taking over with the map to get us where we needed to be. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your point of view, Jen), we got the show in time, but it took us 2.5 hours to get home. I hate driving in DC, and have decided to either rent a limo, take the limo (which would probably never happen, which means:) or just not go.

Categorized as music

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. dude, that’s the best trip record I’ve ever heard into and out of town. Well done on the washington version of lampoon’s european vacation… look kids, big ben & parliament… 🙂

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