Published October 15, 2010
Photo by Tomasz Þór Veruson and Morgan Levy
Iðnó took a chill pill this Thursday night, with Biggibix, Klassart, Moddi, Moses Hightower, Lay Low and Seabear supplying the goods for a laid back night with a living room-type atmosphere.
Given that it’s an old theatre, Iðnó doesn’t have quite the same atmosphere as some of the other Airwaves venues around town, particularly the bars. Every time I go there I remember it as bigger than it really is for some reason, but in fact it’s quite cosy and this worked well with the line up on offer there, which was overall very laid back.
Biggibix kicked off the night with a set of their own brand of alt-pop (sounds like an oxymoron but whatever), which was all good and well if that’s your cup of tea. Biggi’s voice is strong, and he knows how to use it, really belting it out like some sort of man-diva in tracks like ‘Hide Me’. Something about the name Biggi brings about too much of an association with dead rapper Biggie Smalls for me, and this somehow leads to an expectation for rap. And it isn’t rap.
It also isn’t music I would personally buy, although to be fair there is a feeling of commercial potential to them, they sound like something other people, namely teenagers, might like. Good for them. They were unfortunately pouring out their souls to a rather sparse crowd this evening, but those who were there gave fairly generous applause so these guys obviously hit the spot for some.
Though Biggibix weren’t exactly high energy, Klassart, who played next, managed to tone things down even more and played a smooth set, mostly centred around blues, folk and country, though the standout tracks were the blues ones. They played both covers and original tracks and the lead singer, Fríða Dís, has a sweet voice, really well suited to blues, though it seemed sometimes like she was holding it back sometimes. Perhaps she needed some of the man-diva energy of Biggibix.
Anyway, they were pretty cool and their set was good, if not particularly lively. I almost laughed when she said, “OK, now we’re going to slow things down a bit,” as, well, things were already preeeeeetty slow. However, pace aside, they had an honest, unpretentious vibe to them which was nice, as there is only room for so many bands that use the words ‘alt’ or ‘post’ to describe themselves. Though it wasn’t exactly music to make people go crazy, the few people present (it was, after all, still early) seemed appreciative of them.
Jolly good, moving right on, Moddi, who hail from Norway, drew in a somewhat bigger crowd than their predecessors, with an interesting blend of acoustic, experimental folk that continued the low key vibe of the evening. They seemed to really put a lot of themselves into their performance, with sweat pouring off the lead singer and namesake as he created heartfelt music on either his guitar or piano accordion. Their sound was tight and they were rewarded for their efforts with vigorous applause and even a woo! or two in there. Nice.
Moddi is described as having a ‘modest quietude’ on their MySpace page and I would have to say I agree. The overwhelming lack of ego was appealing and they seem to be in it purely for the music, which they create with seriousness, foregoing onstage antics in favour of focus and care. Which doesn’t mean that they are boring to watch, more just that you got a sense of their priorities through their performance style.
Next on the schedule were Moses Hightower, for whom the people poured in. Moses Hightower consist of a core of four members and a troupe of others who chip in. They have a smooth, professional sound which is easy to get into and they didn’t break out of the chilled out mode of the night, in fact if anything they enhanced it, playing a set of funk/soul which hit the spot for anyone wanting to feel foxy, which, apparently was a lot of people. Fair enough. Who doesn’t?
Sometimes their brassy opening notes reminded me of a (probably almost unknown here) band from New Zealand, Fat Freddy’s Drop, who have a similar funk element in their music, while other aspects of their sound made me want to sip cocktails by a swimming pool and wear clunky gold jewellery. Everyone appeared to enjoy their silky smoothness anyhow, and their sound was tight, despite the large size of the band. There was a fair amount of head nodding going on, and they earned their share of whistles and applause after each track.
Following in the skilled footsteps of Moses Hightower was Lay Low, a stock favourite of the Reykjavík music scene, and a veteran of several previous Airwaves festivals. Lay Low has a sweet, cheerful manner on stage and the now-considerable crowd loved her. Her name seeming to be the theme for the night, she fitted in well with the other acts that came before her and played a well-polished set of her always-popular country/folk/blues combo. She was even successful in getting people to sing along with one of her tunes, something which seems to be in fashion at the moment, this being the third time in two nights I had been asked to ‘help out’. I swear it didn’t used to be so common.
I digress. Obviously earmarked on the Airwaves schedule of a good number of punters, Lay Low’s set did not disappoint and her honeyed voice and simple, catchy tunes coupled with her friendly onstage presence seemed to do the trick, although with performers such as her, natives of Reykjavík music scene know what to expect anyway.
Finally, rounding off a night of not particularly wild shows, were Seabear, another new-ish veteran (if that is possible) of the Reykjavík music scene. Seabear actually cranked things up a notch or two and played a hearty set of their usual guff, tuneful folk and whatnot, pleased the crowd no end playing both hits from their previous album ‘I Sing, I Swim’ and newer stuff as well. Seabear put on a decent show, though didn’t quite have the amiability of Lay Low, they obviously know quite well what they are doing, having an impressive track record of touring and live shows.
They finished up the night with a crowd favourite ‘Seashell’, also successfully indulging in this trend of getting the audience to sing along with them. What is up with this? Anyhow, they were well placed to end the evening, which despite being rather mellow, was not lacking in the quality department and Seabear didn’t let the team down, giving a quality show and ending the night on a happy note.
The night, overall, at Iðnó was a good one, yet again showing that Airwaves knows how to bring the goods, and it’s not all cah-rayzee stuff. Though it is a cool venue and all, there were some kind of funny things with Iðnó, which meant that there were frequent awkward moments there throughout the evening. Firstly they turned the lights on full between sets, which was kind of weird. I mean, sure turn on the lights if you want, but don’t crank them all the way up like that. Kind of felt like we were being kicked out or something, because the contrast between the dark, cosy feeling and the bright time-to-go-home-now atmosphere was so great.
Second (and this isn’t really the fault of anyone in particular), because of the size and layout of the place, people were quite thinly spread, and particularly between the earlier sets, while we were being dazzled by the lights, there wasn’t much to do but stand around… awkwardly and scuff your feet or chat with your mates. But well, there is not much that could be done about that; it was just something that gave the evening a somewhat broken up feel at times.