The first band to play that night was Orphic Oxtra who helped get me over my intense anger (at NASA, they charged money for water) with their fun Balkan inspired ensemble. The band is great; they have a lot of energy and play music that you could really go nuts to, if you wanted. Unfortunately no one there seemed to want to, which wasn’t too surprising given that this was the last night of five days of going nuts. The place was pretty full, though, people were mainly expressing their enjoyment through the nodding of their hungover heads and tapping of tired toes. Fair enough.
The band played a good set and came across as a really tight group on stage. Their music twists and turns, and has a near-farcical quality. It’s almost like when you listen you could imagine yourself on some ridiculous adventure, or in a film by Emir Kusturica (which makes sense given the Balkan theme). These guys and girls have got something pretty different going on from many others in the current Reykjavík music scene, which is refreshing. They also clearly have fun with what they’re doing. Big ups to them for that.
Next up on the stage was Samúel Jón Samúelsson’s Big Band, who as usual brought the funk as only they know how. They continued the good work of Orphic Oxtra, and played a fun set, giving anyone who wanted to the opportunity to lose it on the dance floor. Still, not many people were up for it, though they did heat things up considerably. The band has a cool feel, like, you could literally imagine strutting to their music, which hearkens back to hipster years, now long gone but obviously not forgotten.
The guys have a lot of fun with what they are doing and this influences the audience’s enjoyment, infecting viewers (even hungover ones) with their enthusiasm. They seem to not just be there to play music, but also to have fun. In a industry where a lot of people seem to take themselves all too seriously, this is always a good thing.
By the time they finished everyone was in the mood for a good time, which was perfect as Dan Deacon was up next.
[Enter Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir:]
Dan Deacon is like a musical mad scientist, his laboratory set up in the middle of the dance floor, the stage and the idea of the stage having disappeared. Deacon is not the performer, he is the ringleader, and under his command self-conscious hipsters lose themselves in electronic noise. “Can we turn it up like 1.000% louder?” he asked. The pit at the front of the floor pulsed with light and movement in the otherwise dark crowd. Synthesized beats like a joyful apocalypse of sound, ever expanding, like the universe itself, finally collapsing in on itself in darkness as the set ended.
FM Belfast’s power to excite never ceases to be astounding. Perhaps what happened was to be expected, but that makes it no less spectacular: It was Sunday night, on the last and fifth day of a festival featuring nearly 300 shows, and NASA was filled to capacity. There’s really no criticism fitting for a band that shows this much joy on stage. Their music is buoyant, danceable, and the jubilance infectious. At the set’s climaxes, and there were several, the atmosphere inside NASA was nearly euphoric, a chaos of celebration on stage as well as in the audience.
“Things have been going really well tonight,” said Árni Vil, “but you know, life is not always like that.” And he was right. Tomorrow is not on the festival calendar. Tomorrow means back to the daily grind. But it ain’t over ’til FM Belfast takes off their pants and confetti rains from the ceiling, ’til the universe expands in exuberant festivity and collapses in on us—only then, ears ringing, feet throbbing, will we sleep.