Okt 25 2011

Iceland Airwaves ’11 – Summary…

Magnus

One week has past since Iceland Airwaves finished and after getting
our feet back on solid ground and trying to compose ourselves it’s
time to summerize Airwaves’11. When doing so we’ll highlight those
moments which didn’t make it in earlier reviews and picking some K7
highlights and low-water marks.

Beach House
Reykjavík Art Museum

These guys tried to be secretive and mysterious to the point where
they lost contact with their audience. With smoke enough to choke the
front row and lack of light made the band almost impossible to see for
the better part of the set. It’s like Beach House doesn’t want to
really make the most out of the gig. And it sounds just like on
record, it’s just to perfect… almost like on record. The entire
point of seeing a band live is lost. Well except the fact that I now
get to say ”I saw Beach House on Iceland”.

Not worth it though. Maybe these guys need a break from touring? I
don’t know. Maybe I’m just spoiled after a cavalcade of great live
performances.

Of Monsters and Men
Nasa

This young group is said to be the next big thing out of Iceland with
their folky approach on pop but I’m not so easily convinced. When an
entire set is spent waiting for that one last song you’re still a
one-trick pony. Admittedly OMAM do that trick very well and puts that
silly smile on your face but in order to be the next big thing you
need more than just that one song.
Cute, but have some growing to do.

Lockerbie
Harpa

Lockerbie looks like they’re barely of legal drinking age but that
doesn’t matter when you make pop music that good. When compared to Of
Monsters and Men above I for one believe that these guys are more
likely to be the next big thing. If you absolutely need put that
rather absurd title on any up and coming band.

The audience was small to begin with put grew as the set progressed. I
was worried about how these guys were gonna be live after seeing a
youtube video that scared me off but during the week I heard friends
raving about their brilliance live (they of course played their fair
share of off venue gigs). As many other Icelandic band they manage to
combine regular pop music with elements from their own string section
and that just makes me wonder… what’s up with the music education on
Iceland? How do these kids manage to compose string arrangements? K7
loves them to bits either way.

Austra
Reykjavík Art Museum

Pretty music, one-sided live performance. The singer danced the same
steps over and over, never standing still. Maybe Austra isn’t the best
live act ever, but I can tell that her whimsical manner is real and
that she really can’t be still. This is just to much fun. And it is,
and it should be. K7 let’s Austra do her thing while getting in line
for… a special someone.

John Grant
Harpa

Yes, that special someone is John Grant. K7 had the pleasure of
running into him again at the airport when arriving to Iceland. We
talked about touring, the magic of Iceland, him working with Swedish
producer Kleerup (”we’re both control freaks”) and how to get on a
crowded bus with 345 other tired and grumpy passengers shoveling and
muttering swearwords in Icelandic.
When he did his off venue gig at KEX there was a line outside with
enthusiasts trying to get in. K7 was in that line, in the heavy rain
and cold winds. Packed like penguins we tried to keep warm but to no
avail. The warmth came from two open windows from where John’s warm
and soothing voice spilled out.
The main gig at Harpa left everyone in the venue with goose-bumbs and
a lump in their throat. He started with walking up to the mic and
telling everyone about his upbringing, him being gay and the
difficulties that he faced as a consequence. His voice seems to
tremble and we kind of understand. Not really, but almost.
He gets all of the more well known songs out of the way early on which
leaves room for a more personal connection with the audience.
John declares his love for Iceland and we declare out love for John.
It works both ways, there’s even a dialog between him and the crowd
during the set. K7 smiles stupidly at this.
There’s so much to say and John is a K7 sweetheart for a reason. We
thank him for his warmth and honesty.

With John Grant Kentuckyseven rounded up Airwaves’11 in the best way
possible. Coming home to Sweden was a stark reminder of reality. With
the magic of music though we will survive this winter as well.

Until next time.
/Maja, K7 correspondent


Okt 17 2011

Iceland Airwaves – Suuns @ Gaukur á Stöng

Magnus

Suuns
Gaukur á Stöng

There is no way to say this in a nice way. Suuns is the sound of sex.

Okay, not really. But the feeling of that one frustration, holding back or giving in. It doesn’t matter. This is dark and somewhat twisted. This is Canadian gold and dirt at the same time.

Unfortunately the crowd seems hungover since Honningbarna and Suuns never really get the response that they quite deserve. This is music that has the capability to change you at the very core if you let it.

If you let it in.

Live these four guys are even more aggressive and harsher than on record and it suits them terribly well. The way the singer hunches up to the mic almost curled up and with a dark frown on this face, you can almost feel the disgust. I don’t know exactly how the rest of the crowd reacted to their live show but I wasn’t prepared for this.

Though I am glad that I actually got to experience it.

Suuns is an experience.

When the band lets lose Pie IX it’s like they sneakily opened the door to something dark and haunting. You feel it in your gut, in your bones. Suuns have you in their grasp and the entire audience is put under a spell, following the baseline and the repetitive mantra like it was a ritual of a big cult. Apart from Pie IX it’s Up Past the Nursery that really stands out during the set.

 

Having said that, they never reached that peak that I was looking for – that’s frustration for you. They are sharp but there seems to be something missing and it’s difficult to narrow down exactly what. It might be that the guitars are a bit loud and the singing a bit low so that the balance is lost.

This is a 5/7

/Maja, K7 correspondent


Okt 17 2011

Iceland Airwaves – Honningbarna @ Gaukur á Stöng

Magnus

Honningbarna
Gaukur á Stöng

These youngsters are surely up and coming. And mad. You could not believe how mad Norwegian teens can be.

When the show was about to start the entire band made a point of entering the stage through the audience. Pushing and shoving as if to start their own chaos and mess. And it worked, the crowded venue soon turned rowdy in just the right way.

K7 are aware that Honningbarna, meaning Honey children, might very well be out of the comfort zone for regular K7 readers and their ears but these guys have something relevant to say. Not only that, but they manage to say it an convincing, captivating and enthusing way – and with a cello. Come on, how can this not be anything short of fantastic?

Honningbarna kept up the high energy performance and didn’t hold back on anything. When the singer picked up his cello and started playing like a mad man the strings on the bow were soon flying across the stage.

 

It wasn’t very long ago since these guys won a prize in Norway for the best up and coming band and I’m not surprised even in the slightest.

Some of the songs are classics within the punk genre, such as Fri Palestina, ”Free Palestine”, but that’s not the point. These guys are more than just copy cats of their priors. When the singer stands there in a tidy blue sweater with a clean shirt and tie underneath and sing about the ungrateful children of the bourgeois it’s not a coincidence.

With said high energy, excellent execution and relevant material Honningbarna is a 6/7. I can’t help it. They’re just that good. The Kentuckyseven is reserved for their future, they’re not done yet.

/Maja, K7 correspondent


Okt 15 2011

Iceland Airwaves – Hjaltalín @ Reykjavík Art Museum

Magnus

Hjaltalín
Reykjavík Art Museum

This band has earlier specialized on music that could be described as chamber pop. Having a minor orchestra helps but their music combined classical elements and pop in a superb way that made them stand out.

During their gig at the Art Museum though they played new material that moved away from that heavenly mixture.

My heart ached for a bit and I nearly put on a frown but when the crowd seemed to love it at least a little stone was lifted of my chest.

Hjaltalín manage to put on a great stage show and the dynamic within the band functions perfectly. The voices of the two singers melt together so nicely but there should be more room for the female voice.

A resource like that should never be kept back.

The band seemed to have moved on though, and they have developed for sure but there is still that unique and odd twist that set them apart that finally drives the audience crazy. When they play the hit songs Suitcase Man and Feels Like Sugar the show is brought to another dimension and we can’t help but to wonder were they hid all that magic up until that moment.

Maybe I haven’t been able to take their new material to heart yet but I am slightly worried that it doesn’t meet the same standards as their debut album. Which is always the risk when you have an debut album that strong, unique and captivating.

Kentuckyseven is looking forward to seeing where the future takes Hjaltalín. Or where Hjaltalín takes the future.

With the help of Feels Like Sugar this is a 5/7 but was dangerously close a 4 to begin with.

/Maja, K7 correspondent


Okt 14 2011

Iceland Airwaves – Sin Fang og Superband @ Hrésso

Magnus

Sin Fang og Superband

Hrésso (off venue)

Sindri Már Sigfusson is the singer of Seabear and the voice and mind behind Sin Fang since a while back. Alongside his newly put together super-band he played in a tent in a backyard behind a restaurant. Quite an odd place for a gig and kind of tricky to locate. Despite that the place was filled to the brim with eager listeners trying to get a glimpse of Sindri.

The show started late so early birds could catch Sindri in the audience before the show with his toddler on his hip. It’s at that point that I realize that this is what Airwaves is all about. People flying in from all across the world to a rainy city and watch Icelanders play in their backyard. And it is truly nothing short of amazing.

Sindri’s super-band consists of friends from various Icelandic bands and one of them have homemade guitar pedals made out of tuna cans.

Tuna cans. Airwaves is about making the most out of scarce resources and boy do we appreciate it.

With three mics in front of Sindri he manages to recreate that same peculiar sound-scape that he caught on his last album. This could be one of those gigs where a guy just stands there with his guitar and sings a few sweet tunes but this is more than that. Somehow.

The wind was blowing through the tent and the combined heat of the audience couldn’t keep out the cold. On top of that Sindri’s guitar almost died on him during the second to last song. After a minute or two of nervous fiddling, pleading along the lines ”please guitar, don’t die, I’ve been so good to you” the show could continue.

When Sindri and his super-band play the last song they go out strong and it is clear that both the audience and the band tries to make the most of this small off venue gig as the full scale gig later that night is scheduled at the same time as Beach House.

Despite the make shift tent, the cold, the guitar almost dying, the delay and the short time that they played it was this something extraordinary. Sindri is one of those musicians that manages to create magic so easily, right before our eyes and we have no idea how it happened. But we are spellbound.

5/7

/Maja, K7 correspondent

 


Okt 14 2011

Iceland Airwaves – Young Galaxy @ NASA

Magnus

Young Galaxy
NASA

Feathers and face-paint seems to be a recurring theme here on Airwaves. Last seen on the singer of Young Galaxy sporting the persona of a bird matching their song B.S.E.

Young Galaxy put on a show that the crowd won’t forget anytime soon. With fierce stage presence, excellent execution and great connection with the audience they soon had everyone in the house in extacy. Even the otherwise so stiff press people. The photo pit in front of the stage was filled with photographers singing along, shaking their derrières and smiling like kids in a candy shop – which was a very unusual sight indeed.

There is no wonder even the stiff professionals lost their mask, the entire NASA was over the moon. Jumping, dancing and making the most of the Canadian visit. Whenever you would make eye contact you’d be met with an ear to ear-smile and a face of pure glee.

Young Galaxy’s latest album Shapeshifting is a brutally well made album that leaves you missing nothing. These albums are difficult to come by and to be honest there was this nagging question in my mind wondering if they could live up to my astronomically high expectations of their live show. But they did.

Off venue though they were crowded and slightly uncomfortable. The tiny gig on Reykjavik Downtown Hostel was packed, but not a performance to remember. K7 decides to put that aside and instead continue to be in awe of the full scale gig at NASA.

This is a Kentuckyseven, without a doubt. Magic. Heartfelt. All out.


7/7

 

/Maja, K7 correspondent


Okt 13 2011

Iceland Airwaves – Mammút @ NASA

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Mammút
NASA

These kids started their music career early and they were no wonderchilds early on but to my surprise, and great joy, they have developed into a force to be reckoned with. The singer has a strong stage presence, mighty voice, bare feet, fur legwarmers and warpaint on her face.

The flirt with the wild and the untamed force of nature is really clear but it’s a fine line to walk between it being a joke and for it to work.

For most of the time it works but much thanks to the fact that they seem to live in the stage show every second of it and never lose character.

The venue looks like a small and quite house from the outside but inside it turns into a big venue that packs a lot of people. And it’s sweaty. The crowd is enjoying the performance for sure and there is no mistaking just how synced Mammút have become over the years but the next big question is if they are ready to be exported abroad.

And will this work outside of Iceland? I’m not entirely sure, it could literally go either way. Though there is nothing wrong with their music, the audience must be ready for Mammút because there is no compromising. Which is good, a band like Mammút should never make compromises.

There is some developing for Mammút to do, at least I don’t think that this is their peak. I’d like to think that there are still more to come from this group.

One problem is that when I walked away, I still had those fur legwarmers and bare feet on my mind, and not the music. Which worries me. Aren’t the songs more memorable than that?

This is a 4/7

/Maja, K7 correspondent


Okt 13 2011

Iceland Airwaves – For a Minor Reflection @ KEX

Magnus

The übergreat festival on the volcanic island has opened up its glorious field of music. Airwaves, featuring tons of Icelandic bands as well as international acts will be something to remember.

Kentuckyseven is represented by the most competent and super talented Maja Sigfeldt. Her first report, from the island of indie music.

For a Minor Reflection

KEX (off venue)

It’s time to introduce the Kentuckyseven listeners to some Icelandic post rock galore. This weekend there’ll be reviews from the Iceland Airwaves festival i Reykjavik. This is a Mekka for indie lovers from all over the world.

Airwaves opened strong with For a Minor Reflection who treated the audience on a 4 song teaser in the early afternoon. The old biscuit factory turned into a hot, packed shelter from the rain and wind outside. It became evident that this band is something extraordinary and had people on their toes and the press were crazy.

And with all right. These guys have something that other post rock bands seem to lack. There is no simple way of explaining just what that something is but the audience can’t seem to get enough of it.

One way of trying to explain it would be to say that most bands try to put emotion into the music that they’re making. Icelandic bands seem to make music out of emotion.

It’s the sound of emotion. And with FaMR this especially evident. When these guys mangle their instruments everything around you stop. Nothing matters, you just know that your heart is aching and there is no way to deny it. And you know that everyone else in that venue feel it too.

FaMR just released their new EP, that’s actually named EP, with the help of pledgers. It’s an idea built on devoted fans paying for the EP and some exclusive material before the music is even recorded. For this to work you need fans that actually believe in what you do.

There is no doubt that FaMR is among Iceland’s finest. All the fuzz about Icelandic music as something exotic, as the sound of volcanoes, grand nature, harsh winters and so on is so irrelevant. This is music that is beyond those clichées and deserve to be compared to music outside of Iceland. And in that perspective they hold their own very well.

 

Be sure to catch these guys live if you have the chance. It is truly an experience that you don’t want to miss out on.

This teaser of a concert get 5/7, mostly because we don’t get enough after just four songs.

/Maja, K7 correspondent