Every single day we exist we are experiencing something brand new in the world. No two moments in time are exactly the same, contrary to what we would be led to believe by the oft-monotonous drudgeries of our daily living. Each created moment destroys the preceding, with minute decisions influencing still others in an infinite cascade of increasingly complex states of being.
With all the chaos of our collective mutable existence, it’s a wonder how anything happens at all. How we are not constantly paralyzed by an overwhelming, unknowable fear?
And yet we persevere. We have the conversations. We make decisions. We make the effort. Some of the words spoken lead to actions. Some of those actions we never in our lives would have expected. All those small brushes with destiny eventually culminate, often in unexpected ways to unsuspecting people.
Many of us never expected to see Ulver play a show in North America in our lifetime. After they had to cancel their appearance at Maryland Deathfest in 2014, there was surely little hope that their immense legacy would ever cross the ocean. Whispers in the community paint a picture more grim, with some conversations stating that the band would simply not play in the US due to personal reasons or simply not seeing a valuable market for their music.
Quite a lot can change in any amount of time. Quite a lot can change when you have a musical legacy that spans eleven impeccable albums in a 25-year career. Quite a lot can change when you decide to take a risk.
If it was anything, Ulver deciding to perform in the US — alone — for the first time in their quarter-century-existence was a risk. Even with what can be considered a flawless musical career, making the decision to play roughly 90 minutes worth of material that doesn’t encompass the variety of sound you’ve produced over the years is a risk. You hazard spurning a major part of your audience who either does not like, does not appreciate, or has not been exposed to that era of your work.
Two sold out shows is telling enough, however. New York City’s Irving Plaza was filled with bodies to its walls on those Thursday and Friday nights in March. Near everyone in attendance had not previously had the privilege of seeing Ulver perform live. These first — and potentially final — tastes would just have to suffice. Yet if either of these nights were all you would ever experience from these masters of sound, it would be enough.
The brilliantly choreographed light show, the immaculate performance, the just-right-deviations from the album sound, and the calculated blending of Sic Transit Gloria Mundi EP into the entirety of The Assassination of Julius Caesar were beyond reproach.
We humbly offer you these pictures from March 21st and 22nd, but there’s little they can offer to truly capture the enormity of Ulver leaving their indelible mark in Irving Plaza’s history. If you weren’t there, don’t fret; the band has added some West Coast dates during the summer. You should go.