The Wedding Present play catchy indie rock with lyrics that are really honest and are only about love or about not being in love (which kind of implies being in love). Everybody in music is always talking about how “you can’t just write love songs”. I say “why not”? David Gedge, the leader of The Wedding Present, probably decided long ago that he would write about love and that would be enough. Love lyrics have everything you need – betrayal, insanity, passion, drama and comedy. I also found out, thanks to the Internet, that this band I was about to see was somewhat of a pioneer when it comes to music, often cited as a big influence in the indie scene, getting top billing at shows like the Reading Festival.
When I walked into the concert, the mood resembled a debut gig by an unnamed garage band. I counted the people and got to 20, a gruesome reminder that pioneers seldom reap the rewards of their efforts. Only two days ago I had been one of those lost sheep, not realising that tonight was going to be a concert by one of the founders of indie music. I got to thinking that Oliver and other institutions of mediocrity were probably packed. Now people started to stream in and I realised that this was no different from every birthday party I’ve ever been to. I had arrived too early.
Singapore Sling started the show, a band to which I had never given a chance because of rumours. Some say they have too many influences to be unique and others say they’re posers. At least they have very good influences and there’s nothing wrong with posing. Models do it all the time. They started out performing feedback and noise onstage but the audience didn’t have to wait long until the noise turned into hypnotic music. The instruments were turned up loud so it was difficult to hear frontman Henrik sing. The show went on with the appropriate feedback and I could feel the crowd, along with myself, getting sucked into the coolness of Singapore Sling. You can say many things about Singapore Sling but the most important is that they make music look good, and in the end sound good too. You get lured in by the psychedelic guitar structures building on top of each other. While watching and listening to them I suddenly felt “cool”. The band looked cool and made the audience feel like they were cool to be watching them. And the queen of cool was Bíbí, the bass player of Singapore Sling, who never lost her cool. Just watching her onstage would have been worth it. In keeping with the coolness of the band, Henrik didn’t say a lot. “This is very good,” were his last words; then he performed a great feedback exhibition with support from Einar Sonic.
When The Wedding Present started to play, the first song was bright and catchy with some nice tempo changes. Though they sounded a bit like The Smiths, it never occurred to me that they were copying. The Wedding Present’s songwriting is more unconventional than Morrissey’s darlings, and yet all the songs seemed to be two minutes. While this kept you from getting into the songs, it also kept you from getting bored.
Then David Gedge, a guy who looks like someone you’d meet at a local bar in England and have a pint with, addressed the audience. “We’re the semi-legendary Wedding Present.” Then he mumbled: “Well, it’s all relative. Sorry it’s taken 20 years.”
Gedge seemed to be totally free of all arrogance. Learning “takk fyrir” also scored Gedge a few more points with the audience. One of my friends whispered in my ear, “This would probably be awesome if we knew the lyrics,” cause there actually were real fans there who knew the lyrics.
At the beginning of the concert people were nodding their heads not unlike the end scene of Purple Rain. Then after ten songs people started wiggling and some started jumping. One guy poured beer over his head, which, in Iceland, is just kind of normal. I was starting to wonder if another venue wouldn’t have been more appropriate. Then after thinking about it, I decided The Wedding Present is happy music that you can get pissed and dance to. It was too bad, though, for the people who were not getting retarded and just wanted to see the show.
While listening to The Wedding Present didn’t make me feel cool like while watching Singapore Sling, I felt happy. David Gedge praised the crowd and they clapped and stomped in return. All things considered The Wedding Present turned out to be like the girl you sleep with and really like but can’t get over the fact that you’re not in love with her. But you’d have sex with her given the chance and you wouldn’t be surprised if your friend married her and you’d understand. But you two would never marry. But sex, definitely.
I doubt I’ll be listening to The Wedding Present every day but this was an excellent and relevant concert, well worth the 1,500 ISK.