When you think of Icelandic music, Sigur Ros is the first name to come to mind. There is a new name to add to that growing pile. Asgeir, the 22 year old phenom whose debut album won over the hearts of his native country. With the English translation of that album released in January 2014, Asgeir’s fanbase had reached new heights in the US, as evidenced by his sold out show this past Friday at Bowery Ballroom.
Along for the tour, Low Roar began the evening with one of the most beautiful, intense songs ever, “Breathe In“. With building harmonies and synth swells, this song served to help the crowd visualize the Icelandic hills, grey seascapes and valleys that inspired the album, “0.” From that point on, lead singer Ryan Karazija’s voice takes center stage. Very minimal banter between the band and the crowd, I knew that this show would be one focused solely on the music and the feelings generated.
As Asgeir took the stage to deafening applause, hiding a shy smile, I predicted that he would also be light on stage banter. This was true, but this approached served the music well. Beginning with “Hide Your Head In The Snow”, referencing the long Icelandic winters. His set also included songs in his mother language such as “Nu Hann Blaes”, which I found absolutely mesmerizing, “Samhiljomur”, and “Dyrd í dauðathogn.” I heard many Icelandic people in the audience shouting things to Asgeir that made him crack a smile or two, and I am sure they appreciated hearing a few of his songs as they were originally conceived. Although many of us Americans couldn’t understand the lyrics to these songs, we were able to feel the beauty and emotion of the words and melodies and that is what mattered most. He deftly managed to win us all over with a stellar piano driven cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box.” The song that brought the house down was “Going Home“, with driving bass, and a strong synth presence. Listening to Asgeir sing truly transports you to another place. I found that the show moved by so quickly without me even realizing, and then it was over far too soon.
Article by: Lesley Keller