As Hellvar get ready to play their set, we look around to see that NASA is completely empty. Apparently some Swedish pop act is playing at the art museum tonight (The Cardigans?) and this means NASA is a ghost town with its own species of Tumbleweed. But Hellvar get complete props for not flinching at this prospect and being completely focussed at rocking out. Especially Gary. Gary was a lonely laptop on a chair and he was the 6th member of the band. And god he worked so hard to actually infuse some electronic dimension to Hellvar’s late ‘90s Garbage/Hole sound. But alas everyone else in the band was rocking out so hard, all we could hear was a little ‘dikka-dikka-dikka‘ sound, like a wandering cricket in the background. I hope they fire Gary and stop all this electro rock nonsense.
Factory Floor were a marmite band. People either loved them or totally hated on them from a great height. Even though they were a UK trio. I think they may have had German fathers who were in the Baader-Meinhof gang, as their sound was a merciless Teutonic slab of German power electronics and Industrial efficiency. It was plainly obvious their influences were the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Einstürzende Neubauten and Ghostigital, but again kids, if you are going to steal influences, steal from the best. I found myself nodding quite happily until I took my earphones out and screamed ‘OHMYGODTHESGUYSARESOFUCKINGLOUD!!’
JJ. Fucking. Sucked. That is really all I can say about it. Why did they suck? Well I don’t want to waste my time, energy and sanity going into it, but they proved that music that often sounds great recorded in a bedroom or as a musical experience in your own personal headspace on your mp3 player usually doesn’t translate well to a live setting. They had the stage presence of a couple of stoned students having a jam in their garage. It also didn’t help their lazy fuzzy chillwave beats that they had a video show that contained scenes from famous moments in Italian football and the lead singer miming to one of the songs while smoking a cheroot. Overall a great reason to remember why we should be a war with Sweden.
The place managed to finally pack out a bit for Mount Kimbie. I personally love the sound these guys make as it shows they are willing to take a popular electronic genre (dubstep) and fuck around with it till it begs them to stop. Also for dubstep act, they did most of the rhythms and instrumentation live with made for a decent live presence. The downside of all this was that at several times, their syncopated beats ran away with them as they struggled to keep everything together. They also blew out a piece of their equipment, which caused a break in the flow of their act. But when it clicked on tracks such as ‘Field’, man they completely killed it. Flawed but still exceptional.
Now I’ve kind of deliberately not heard any music at all from Apparat Organ Quartet but just about everyone I know involved in music swears that they guys are the proverbial dog’s testicles. And of course they were completely correct. Looking like a bunch of dodgy real estate salesmen forming a Kraftwerk appreciation group, they both packed the place out and brought the crowd to their knees. I even saw one of their members, soft ambient soundtrack master Jóhann Jóhannsson rocking out and making weird robot vocals. Their music was a storming mix of electro rock that took in so many retro flavours from suicide to Kraftwerk to Devo but still managed to make it sound current and vital. In fact these guys were nu-rave before the term became an annoying buzzword. They were so popular that they threatened to spark something almost unheard of before midnight at airwaves. An encore!
On the stroke of midnight I passed the baton onto my wingman Þórður Ingi Jónsson, as I run into the night to take in the sights and bacteria that Reykjavik can offer on a Saturday night…
Hercules And Love Affair
They have a very large sound that’s somehow forward or circular, dance numbers that seem to go on and on and eventually melt into some tribal chant or shamanistic rhythm. The three lead singers are liturgically shouting “feel it” in a very soulful manner, in order to help the audience feel it and not fight it. Almost every square feet of NASA is filled to the brim with folks, and Hercules And Love Affair are an immense hit with them. After a short interval of orating, the singers start stomping their feet and people do the same, causing the building’s foundation to quiver. The results are as above, altered consciousness-inducing sounds. Bring your own ayahuasca.
One of Reykjavik’s more popular bands today start out with a reggae tune. Not that I’ve seen Retro Stefson often in concert, but it’s the first time I’m somewhat compelled by their tropical blend which is can be a bit too happy for some. If you still have a soul, then you will like them of course. They’re a good-humoured band, and after front man Unnsteinn bleats out: “For all the metal-heads here” the song dissolves into jokily metal for a few seconds, complete with head banging. It was pretty funny. Later, a group of three men in funny dresses assist them in vocalizing.
Swedish band The Amplifetes start playing; all glimmered up and the heavily bearded lead man enters the stage wearing comfortable yogi-type clothing. Under sombre tones, his voice-boxed robotic singing booms and then the steady, 4/4 beat starts rolling. So far so good. The second song, ‘Fokker’, which is, according to the yogi “for all you fucks out there”, is a hard ‘n’ heavy club hit a la Kraftwerk except way more Swedish and smiling. They are obviously a practised band and musically, they’re tight as an airlock. The last songs are pretty banging.
After The Amplifetes finish, the crowd that had populated NASA to see the last few bands had disbanded and it seemed like a hurricane with machine-gunned tentacles had materialized in the venue. Things become substantially more vulgar when Dee Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart” starts blaring through the speakers. Next song on the play list is Haddaway’s “What Is Love”. Mm. Yeah. Shit just got subversive all up in this. I wonder who’s to blame…
Haffi breaks into a song that I guess is called ‘Freak Show’ because that’s what he keeps monotonously intoning. He’s rocking high heels as well as an umbrella and sunglasses. Oh Haffi, you and your crazy seasonal miscalculations! In the context of pop music (that’s short for popular music, kids) he plays a catchy set, but it’s only for those who can stomach what seem like blatantly unserious techno jerkings-off at the ungodly hour of three in the morning.
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!