The Cave is a largish room in TÞM (Tilraunar-þróunarmiðstöðin – a mouthful in any language), an old fish-processing plant on the unattractive side of town that has evolved into a remarkable institution: A haven for teenage bands and concertgoers that not only features rehearsal space adequate for 200 musicians and a stage for them to perform on, but is mercifully free of the teenage abstinence prattle that plagues most underage venues. They have a decent smoking room and the only reason they give to ban alcohol is to minimize the amounts of damaged and vomited-on equipment. At least once a week, it hosts the most respected all-ages shows in the country. Friday, October 28th, was no exception, but it was all that much more remarkable for what it followed.
Deathmetal Supersquad have to be seen to be believed. A singer/guitarist backed by an agile and capable drummer and a chorus of fans who looked ready to die for them, they thundered through the tightest punk set I have seen in a long time. Even the poor sound quality only added to the purity and honesty of their performance.
The audience didn’t move an inch, but not out of boredom. There was a kind of silent reverence in their eyes that no amount of hype or record sales could ever supplant. The awestruck teenage angst welling out of the crowd was almost as bittersweet as the heartfelt agony in frontman Þórir’s voice.
The squealing cacophony of noise at the start of Skátar’s show set the tone for the total randomness of their chaotic, all-over-the-place sound, and it was a fairly run-of–the-mill Skátar concert, to be honest. The white overalls, the quirky sense of humour, the maniacal cackling and the mesmerizing hypnosis of their sustained riffs were all present and accounted for, and there were all-around salutes to their fellow bands of the evening.
Although it took them a while to get into it, their sheer originality combined with the earnest care they put into their live show won through, but the sound system could have done with a bit of vamping – I noticed some extremely bored-looking people sleeping in the couches at the back.
I spoke briefly with Óli, Fighting Shit’s drummer, before the show, and he gingerly confessed to me that they hadn’t practiced in about three months or so. It didn’t show in the slightest. Fighting Shit were a tightly wound thrashcore machine, a perfectly hellish blast of unrestrained noise. They were as awe-inspiring a live band as one could possibly wish for.
Jakobínarína are becoming the N*Sync of Iceland. The two bands have many things in common: Teenaged followings, an ear for catchy music, sharp dance routines and an onstage attitude that suggests utter stupidity to the nth degree. And I know it’s been said before (even Fighting Shit vocalist Kolli couldn’t stop jabbering on about them between songs), but here’s one more person saying it, just to make sure you get it: You have to see these guys play.
The general feeling in the crowd at their shows is that you are truly bearing witness to the start of something incredible, that a surgical knife is cutting with microscopic precision into the very heart of great music. They are one of those bands that don’t even need songwriting to deliver. They are possessed of such a unique and untainted clarity of vision that it borders on zealotism; they could never, ever write music that didn’t sound like this.
All in all, their perfectly silly pop-punk suffered only from the technical difficulties that by necessity plague a six-man band. Other than that, they were a force, a bright shining sword, a religious experience, too good for drugs and better than sex. They made me wish the night would never end.
I sometimes felt like something of an outsider there, however. The bands and the audience were just such a tightly wound community, gathered so snugly around a place so infinitely theirs that the sense of belonging could have been used as a doorstop. Two members of Skátar bounded onstage during Jakobínarína’s set, and everyone – onstage and offstage – seemed to know each other by name. It was such an intimate and marked change from the crass, vain showmanship of Airwaves a week earlier that watching it all moved me to tears.