Over three months in 2005, the Grapevine, with the help of Bad Taste Record Shop, Gallery Lobster and Fame, Bar 11, Sirkus and Thule was able to put on 36 shows featuring more than 70 local bands. To close out, we selected bands that we expected to hear a lot from in 2006.
Mammút kicked off with some rocking new tunes, and proved once again what an intelligent establishment the Battle of the Bands is. Even if bands don’t perform very well at the competition, (see Mammút’s own comments on their performance at the Battle of the Bands in 2003), the judges still have a way of sniffing out talent.
It has been exciting to watch Mammút grow. In just over a year they have progressed from awkward quasi-trip-hop to a powerful innovative force; the vocals and keyboards are as brilliant as they are deliciously over-the-top, and they also feature one of the more imaginative bass players in Iceland.
Hairdoctor is the call sign that a team of sharply-dressed discoballs with a so-so collection of fairly experimental music apply to themselves. Although they were somewhat lacking in depth and the ability to live up to their clothing, they managed to put the proverbial funk in the crowd’s collective trunk. A good band.
Jeff Who? are Jakobínarína’s chief competitors for the Icelandic indie-rock crown, or so their reputation would suggest. I was mildly entertained by decidedly clichéd modern rock that seemed all too aware of its own hipness for my tastes. But again, they seemed to pull it all off nicely; I remember thinking that if someone would kill this band, everyone would remember the killer’s name.
I have left Rass for last so I could more easily compare them to their counterparts, Dr. Spock. This is partially because they share ex-Ham and Funkstrasse vocalist Óttarr Proppé, but also because they seem to balance each other out fairly well. Where Dr. Spock’s music is as bland as it is irritating and banal, their live shows are full of the energy that is all too uncommon in Icelandic music. Rass, on the other hand, recently released one of the best rock albums in Icelandic history, but their live show fails to amount to anything more than a bunch of sweaty old guys rockin’ out. Which is cool, if that’s your thing.
Donna Mess: If the sorry antics of three female twenty-something fashion victims sloppily impersonating garage electro manage to arouse any of your curiosity, I suggest saving the money you would have spent on this ridiculously overpriced concert and borrowing a drum machine, playing any of the eight-beat rhythms pre-programmed into it and then hollering over it in your best impression of a crack-addicted baboon trying to seduce potential mates by bellowing downbeat renditions of bad country songs.
That said, you can dance to Donna Mess, though.
SkakkamanAgeForgotten Lores were looking very likely to save the day. A down-to-earth, decidedly talented group of young rappers backed by a live band, they had the situation completely under control from the moment they stepped on stage until the end of the last song, when they were enthusiastically cheered off.
Ghostigital are an obligatory item on any Bad Taste line-up; they are fronted by Einar Örn Benediktsson, formerly of Purrkur Pilnikk and the Sugarcubes. His main accomplice, Birgir Örn Steinarsson, commands equal respect in the noise community as the sole member of industrial rock act Curver. Put them together and what do you get? Insanely loud industrial beats cluttered with overwhelmingly claustrophobic noise and the terrifying shouts of a man who seems to be on the verge of a grand mal seizure. Great stuff.
But something is wearing thin in Ghostigital’s insanity. Their music is a recklessly uniform hypnotic drone, but a drone nonetheless; they have yet to prove that they can transcend the style that they embraced, which is, in my opinion, exactly what Bad Taste as an institution is all about.
In retrospect, it would seem as if the only bands present who managed to accurately represent the values Bad Taste has impressed upon us over the years were Rass and Mammút. These two bands revised their musical genres, filtering out everything they were unimpressed by in their respective genres and leaving only the solid and most intimate core stripped bare for us to see.