On Saturday (June 6), Björk played the main stage at the end of day two of Governor’s Ball to tens of thousands of people. It’s a big moment for any musician, even one as legendary as Björk. But anyone who thought Björk would tone down her high-concept theatricality, her delightful weirdness, her, well, Björk-ness, doesn’t know the Icelandic singer-songwriter well. Here are the seven Björk-iest moments of her awesomely bizarre Governors Ball performance.
Bjork Delivers Energetic, Inscrutable Set at Governors Ball 2015
1) Her costume.
Björk was wearing a fuzzy black/green/purple outfit that was out there even for her. We think it was a spider, but it could’ve been a moth, a centipede, or any number of creepy-crawly creatures that you don’t want to look at for too long. There were three-pronged wing/leg things coming out her shoulders. Her head and face were covered in a sheer mask. We’re no entomologists, but Bjork wears arthropod well.
2) The videos of nature being extra nature-y.
Ever since her earliest work Björk has been obsessed with nature — the video for “Human Behavior” anyone? But after her 2011 Biophilia project, she’s gone full blown NatGeo — if NatGeo was dedicated only to nature’s ickiest creatures at their ickiest, that is. The videos that played behind her during her Governor’s Ball set had it all: Moths laying disgusting egg thingies? Check. Millipedes having an orgy? Double check. Slugs hanging upside down from snot strings and spewing weird blue goo? Barf. But hey, it was sort of fascinating and beautiful at the same time, as long as you hadn’t eaten right beforehand.
Governors Ball 2015: Memorable Moments from Day 2
3) Her song selection.
Björk’s set was basically the antithesis of what most acts do at big-stage festival gigs. She, her orchestra, laptop-wielding producer Haxan Cloak and percussionist Manu Delago played only a couple of her more well-known ’90s hits, sticking mostly with obscure cuts from her heartbreaking, breakup-inspired new album Vulnicura. The crowd got noticeably thinner, but not because Bjork wasn’t great — she was just a little too Björk for a crowd of mostly twentysomethings and teens who were there to festival, man.
4) Her dance moves.
Björk moved in mysterious ways, but probably not like Bono meant. Inspired by whatever creature she was dressed up as, she shimmied to one side of the stage, then fluttered back, then did weird robot pantomime moves, then vogued bizarrely.
5) Every time she said, “thank you.”
If you’ve ever seen Björk, you know that her favorite words in the English dictionary are “thank” and “you.” In fact, those are often the only two words she ever says. Sometimes, in her thick Icelandic accent, she’ll say them stoically, sometimes happily, sometimes robotically. And at Governors Ball, let’s just say she was as grateful as ever.
Governors Ball 2015: More Festival Coverage
6) When she demanded that the crowd “karaoke.”
There were only a couple times Björk uttered more than “thank you.” Once she basically said the same thing: “I aprrrrrrreciate you,” emphasis on the R. But more delightful than that was toward the end of her set, when she instructed the crowd to sing along to “Hyperballad.” Or, to let her tell it: “C’mon — Karaoke!” Singing along to Bjork is never easy, but the fans that were left at that point, were diehards, so they happily, clumsily, obliged.
7) The fireworks.
Björk’s songs were mostly depressing, and her performance was often confounding. But she saved a big payoff for the end of her set: fireworks. They blew repeatedly from the top of the stage during “Hyperballad,” time with huge flames blasting from behind the orchestra. After the strange journey she took the audience on, it was, like much of her best music, downright cathartic.
Editor’s Note: Billboard misidentified Haxan Cloak as Arca, The story has been updated to reflect the mistake.