Seeing Bjork the other night was less like a loud concert by a huge pop star, and more like a scholastic exploration into our physical universe to see what kinds of sounds it makes. The rabid Bjork fan in me was disappointed, but the open-eyed, curious, very-high-on-ecstasy part of me came away with fresh perspectives… new thoughts about music, live performances, and the nature of the cosmos in general.
The stage was placed in the center of the room, with the audience gathered around it on all sides. The concert opened up with an acapella piece by an Icelandic choir of 20 women, all of them in a circle facing each other at the center of the stage. The intro ended, Bjork stepped into the spotlight, a huge Tesla coil descended from the ceiling, and “Thunderbolt” dropped. Huge bass notes were accented to spectacular effect by fucking lightning bolts leaping up and down and everywhere from center stage. The crowd went wild.
Now, if the rabid-Bjork-fan had his way, the rest of the set would have been a crazy dance party featuring all of her greatest hits, sprinkled with a few of the strange, nature-oriented tracks off her new album Biophilia. Instead, the concert was a brooding, slow, stop-and-go tour through every freaking track on the thing, accompanied by visuals that highlighted nature’s involvement. My high-and-curious side decided to accept the invitation to get schooled by the cosmos.
One lesson was about the virus. Huge screens showed beautiful red blood cells slowly succumbing to relentless attacks by viral units. Bjork sang a story of the undying love of the virus for its host—how it can’t help but pull closer and closer to its lover, until she’s consumed. The story was beautiful; I’d never been so supportive of seeing a lethal virus spreading throughout a bloodstream.
Another highlight was “Mutual Core”. The push-and-pull romance of tectonic plates was explored, while Bjork portrayed our continents as wistful lovers searching for their right match. Inevitable volcanic explosions of music ensued.
Most of this set was weird, ugly and atonal, but I think maybe that was the point. It forced me to experience it as I would any natural phenomena. The waterfall and the volcano are immense and beautiful parts of our world, even in all their chaos and their complete lack of melody. Besides, you have to hand it to her: who else but Bjork would dare to explore such intense arenas of sound, and then create a complete album out of it?