This week Björk continued her NYC residency with the launch of her virtual reality spectacular, "Stonemilker," along with a string of live shows, which continues tonight and into next week. If you're one of the lucky who has tickets, this is what you can expect… if not, enjoy vicariously.
Björk’s iconic status makes her seem like more of an idea or quirky brand than an actual human being. Her distinctively timid voice, unpredictable fashion choices, and avant-garde musical explorations are all characteristics we can associate with her as a performer—but what is Björk the person actually like?
Rather than creating yet another fictional world for her fans to inhabit, Björk's latest album Vulnicura lets us into her actual world during some of her most vulnerable moments. Chronicling the disintegration of her marriage to renowned artist Matthew Barney, whom Björk was married to for over a decade with two children, the album is uncharacteristically personal and autobiographical, introducing an entirely new side to an artist who has studied and explored perhaps every subject but herself.
We went to her one of her recent New York shows in support of Vulnicura, giving us a glimpse at how a true star gets back on her game after a bad case of the sads. If you’re riding the struggle bus through a tough break up, take note.
She Hides A Bit
During the first six songs of her set, Bjork veils her face with a pinpoint headpiece by Japanese milliner and jewelry designer Maiko Takeda. While it flickers and sparks with polychromatic reflections of light, inspiring in me a range of pitiable, disco ball-inspired Halloween ideas, the spellbinding fixture inhibits the audience from seeing Bjork’s face, and vice versa. While we hear her aching cries for companionship and see her frustrated, full-body conniptions, she appears to us more like a memory, as one would vaguely recall the outlines and movements of an ex-lover’s body.
If you’re not Björk, then this is the break up phase in which you block yourself from your ex’s social media accounts but still glimpse at theirs through your friends, coworkers, relatives at the CIA, whatever.
She Dominates the Dance Floor
After all the years, Björk’s stage presence remains unparalleled, distinct. She alternates between leisurely conducting her backing orchestra and charging from the back of the stage to the front with shaking wrists and rockstar hair tossing. At other times, she stands and taps her foot, rolling her upper body to her sonic creations. To sum it up, our girl gets down, often times with a smile on face.
But, once again, you’re not Björk. Chances are, your iteration of this step will involve full-body grinding on bridge and tunnel guys while you’re three sheets to the wind in an 18 and over club. Still, it’s better than nothing! Learn some of Björk’s ferocity through this video. This won’t solve everything, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Just Kidding, You’re Actually Fabulous
After an intermission, Björk gloriously re-emerges without the pointy head cap. Working a skin-colored leather dress and her thick mane of spunky, pitch-black hair, Björk’s naked face summons the first of three standing ovations—it’s the moment where the disguised performer transforms back into the icon we all adore. All at once, we remember the dramatic red wig of Biophilia, orbiting her head like a halo of ever-growing cotton candy, the childlike voice with its Icelandic hints, and yes, the swan dress.
If you’re not Björk, this is the phase where you realize you’ve lost a ton of weight from serious depression, and that you actually look pretty great in a party dress. It’s all about the silver linings. Things are looking up, and you’re looking good.
Time to Truly Say “Bye Felicia”
Björk’s moved on. Besides the music and visuals (duh), the show peaked when Björk raised what appeared to be a glass of champagne to the audience. Despite the heartbreak and vicious recent coverage of her MoMa show, Björk’s all—“IDGAF, life goes on.” It was really classy, the kind of move that people who own nice China and pay their rent on time would pull.
Again, you’re not Björk, so no one will really give you the time of day if you stand in the middle of a bar and take a sip of celebratory wine. I’m literally writing this in a bar while sipping wine, and no one’s applauding me. Anyway, you’re finally ready to move on with your life. Also, drinking.
Photo via Jeffronyc.
Be Thankful for What You Have
Toward the end of the show, Björk performed a few of her older hits, each of which the audiences chirpily welcomed. For someone who delivers emotion blast after blast through song, Björk is rather quiet when speaking to her audience. Besides “Thank you” and an adorably riotous cry of “Brooklyn!” she mostly skips on conversation with the audience. Only at the very end does she thank her band, who helped her play out the heartbreak she perfectly projects from the stage.
Life’s a bitch and shit happens. But truth be told, even though you’re single and you haven’t sold millions of albums or secured your place in music history, you’re a lot better off than you could be, and it’s going to be all good. Just think, “What would Björk do?”
Mathias Rosenzweig is healing on Twitter.