The evening was cold and wet when I arrived at Venue. No lines had formed outside of the Art Museum (yet) and exactly three people had arrived before me eager to get this second-to-last night of Airwaves started.
I find my place amongst the seated viewers and watch as The Esoteric Gender start the show. The first thing I notice about them is the fact that the drummer seemed be using an electric drum kit. I have always been a fan of electric drum kits but I prefer the pristine and cutting ones over those that sound sterile and dull. The drummer of Esoteric Gender seems to prefer the latter, but that of course is up to him and the rest of his band. The band played very fluently, though, and there was little to complain about in regards of skill. I would actually have liked to see the drummer perform on a live drum kit since he really wasn’t that bad. The thing is, though, that even though the performance wasn’t bad, the sound was at times at bit like what you’d expect from a karaoke bar. A big dick without the balls to go with it. I would definitely have emphasised the vocals a lot more, since the singer really stood out from the plastic sound coming from the band.
After Esoteric Gender had finished, I went downstairs to take a piss and refill my glass with smuggled beer. The price of drinking beer from the tap from 19 to 24 is a just a bit to steep on a weekend that starts at Wednesday.
Next up was Steve Sampling. I had just sat down with a new glass of my smuggled beer when the chair under me suddenly started rumbling. I thought an earthquake had just started and immediately began to think of all the awesome people that were going to be stuck in Iceland because of that darned volcano. My optimism was shattered as I realized that the only thing shaking was the mind numbing bass coming from Steve. Steve’s set was smooth nonetheless. It would have been a very pleasant experience to start the evening with his laid backbeats if it wouldn’t have been for the rattling, mind-numbing bass. I had to hold onto my glass to keep it from falling off the edge of the table.
As Quadruplos started the place was half deserted. Of course, this was the last ‘proper’ day of Airwaves, so most people were probably nursing the first beer at this point trying to imagine the night in store. However, Quadruplos didn’t seem to be in hungover spirits as they tore through an intense electro dub-step set. If there would have been an actual crowd present, the evening would have started early since Quadruplos’ set was actually pretty decent. I often found myself involuntarily taping my foot to the beat. The only bad thing about the performance was the earth shattering level of the bass. The soundman was probably trying to see if he could bring every seated woman in the house to a full-bodied orgasm with his sound magic. That bastard.
Sometime took their sweet time setting up, so I was off to Bakkus to play a bit of foosball. My friend and I were deep in the business of bringing some foolish foreigners to their knees when I heard the sound of someone playing music through the wall. I left my friend to the business of losing by himself and ran over to Venue.
Sometime brought a more mature feel to the night. The melodies were a lot smoother and the beats a lot more easy going. Still, they seemed to lack a certain spark. I would think that serving up at least one proper hit would do Sometime some good.
I was getting very tired at this point, since standing in a half empty venue can get a bit depressing. My beer was finished and i was quickly nearing the last cigarette in my pocket. My spirits were lifted though as the place started to pack up for the next performer.
Diamond Rings came as a bit of a surprise, since the stage- setup included multiple instruments. I expected at least four men in full make up, but only received one. The surprise was even bigger as i realized the guy actually had some talent. Simple melodies with intelligent lyrics got Diamond Rings under my skin. But the duties of being a critic were over for me as I handed the venue Venue to the next correspondent, Mr. Florian Zühlke. It was time for me to be the schmuck in line at the Art Museum[Good ol’ Florian takes it from here!]
Venue was the perfect party place for the rest of Saturday night. As it got later and people got more drunk, they craved to party.
When Neon Indian started playing, they perfectly satisfied this physical need with a mighty alliance of heavy drumming and bass that set the basis for their ‘80s infected electro-pop. Though not outstanding in neither music nor performance, people shook their limbs and hips, transforming Venue into a highly adequate Airwaves-Saturday party-place. Actually, when I got really bored by the band I fortunately discovered a guy just a few steps from me, wearing giant slippers. As he liked the band and I liked him moving, it made for a fun time.
Next up was Danish electro-punk band Reptile & Retard. First thing to notice was that the band-members were disguised in Chinese theatre masks, which should set the mood to an even more freaky and up-tempo concert. The audience already joined the singer, while he was still sound-checking. What fun! Cheered on that way, Reptile & Retard skipped the foreplay and went for it at once. The singer was acting crazy, climbing up everywhere on stage (later even up everywhere in Venue) supported by their pumping electronic straightforward sound. In the middle of the set he spread his very own ‘gospel of the beast’ like a priest on acid as an introduction. In the end he tried to spread the word of the Grapevine by throwing every issue he could get a hold of into the audience.
What happened then might have been the climax of the whole evening. The long queue in front of Venue was for Icelandic hip-hop pioneers XXX Rottweiler Hundar. As Icelanders are very loyal to their legends, the place was boiling, bouncing and banging during the set of tough and tight Icelandic battle rap. As a foreigner it is hard to actually know why people went bananas to certain songs, but to see four hundred people at Venue jumping and shouting with the four rappers should be indication enough, that Rottweiler Hundar did a great job and provided the most engaging concert of the evening.
I like electro music that is kind of introverted but – when it is well performed – very passionate and rousing as well. Jungle Fiction, having a bit of a bumpy start syncing their samples, turned out to be the perfect last act, when they gathered momentum. French techno heroes Justice came to mind, as Jungle Fiction combined heavy and bass-y techno sounds with melodic moments. In addition they knew how to structure their set with certain highlights and then again more laid back moments. When they were done, the audience was as well, tired and happy.
For a brief moment – before swarming to the countless aftershow parties around town. The city never sleeps.
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!