I could find many excuses not to write an entry about Jónsi’s concert at Laugardalshöll. Excuses like I didn’t really go because: it was too mainstream after all, I had a bellyache — which is the case today but it wasn’t yesterday –, I was kidnapped by a squad of enraged puffins. But I did go, and I am a terrible liar. So I could just tell you I am not music critic and I hate reviewing gigs. Actually, that would be not an excuse: I am no music critic and I hate reviewing gigs. If you’re expecting a review or a detailed account on the show, buzz off.
I will anyway write something, because the event was so important and many will google for it, hoping somebody — anybody! even people that don’t have any intention to review the show — will post a few words about it.
As you might have expected of him, Jónsi looked at his top. Although with his solo artistic incarnation he seems to have acquired a supernatural form that transcends even what he achieved with Sigur Rós, he cleverly never gave in to easy overindulgence like many frontmen turning into apparent standalone deities do. The concert explored the material from his debut album, merging sound and visuals in a colorfully grandiose conceptual alt-pop opera, where recurring motives and extravagance stood out to contribute to the cohesion of it all, even more than they did on their recorded version. As many already said in other occasions, Jónsi’s stage persona could be perfect embodiment of the alien, with all its charismatic flaws and qualities. The rest of the band also looked like made of aliens, with Jónsi’s life partner Alex Somers looking as serene as a visitor from another planet meeting stunned humans for the first time could be. As the partner in crime put it, this could as well be the music of the future; and as witnesses, we both got sucked into this feeling of déjà vu of something that is yet to come.
So why couldn’t I get all enthusiastic and I cannot write a raving account? It’s true that the charm of both Jónsi and Sigur Rós never really worked on me, because I just never felt in tune with their music — I do like a lot Jónsi & Alex though. However, I don’t think it would be different if it were another concert, another musician, another story in relation to my own. Just to let you know something more about myself that has nothing to do with Jónsi or with any other Icelandic band: I actually hate going to gigs. I really do. I do not like the crowd, the queuing, the struggling, being forced to listen to the rubbish all those people have to say while waiting before the concert starts. I dislike being close to all those strangers, the fact you end in a way or another intruding their privacy and they end doing the same with you.
A reason could be I started going to concerts too late in my life, but I never truly enjoyed the atmosphere of live events, in the first place. You buy your ticket and then two weeks later, sometimes months later, on the day of the show, you have to feel in the mood for it. It almost never happened. And with all these musicians trying to perfectly imitate what they did on record with their live performance, I’d rather stay at home and listen to the recorded music. It’s like being forced to take a test when you’re in high school, and you know you have to, but being in the mood? C’mon… Don’t get me wrong, I like music, I like listening to it, but I truly have to be motivated to force myself to go to a concert without going bonkers.
Yesterday I cracked up: at some point I seriously considered going home. I have to do things my own way, otherwise I cannot take it. I just couldn’t do them my own way because I am not fifteen and I don’t like knowing I am surrounded by teenagers doing things the way I should be doing to feel at ease. If I try the grown-up approach, I have to find a use for everything and of course it’s not fun anymore. Lots of complications, you see?
Mr. Jón Þór Birgisson, aka Jónsi, made me realize something very important and, also, very sad: I am not motivated enough anymore to go to some kind of concerts. The kind of concerts that are actually less live music events than they are huge events on their own. Although they make me paranoid as well, I still can bear the thought of attending smaller scale gigs and of taking photos without feeling pressure. I can bear the thought of these events because they’re not ego-absorbing and so very psychologically demanding. I am not anymore able to let anybody in the music industry swallow my ego for a couple of hours together with the egos of other 5,000 people. I realized I am not that young anymore. But quite honestly, up to yesterday I perhaps just pretended I was young, but young I never was.
Images ©Pu the Owl. Don’t use without permission. Pu’s photography blog can be found at Manic Owl Works.