There was a nice cosy atmosphere when I stepped into Tjarnarbíó. Candles were burning, lamps were lit and foreign exchange students, who looked like philosophy majors, gave the place a cool underground vibe. I had been told that this concert was a “woollen sweater thing”. When people mention the woollen sweater my brain projects a blinking neon sign that reads pretentiousness. I own a woollen sweater so I was pretty excited.
The place wasn’t packed, which painfully reminded me of the fact that Icelanders’ idea of culture is to watch the X-Factor. If it isn’t Mugison or Sigur Rós we don’t give a shit. But Amiina have long played with Sigur Rós, so as those thoughts sprang to my head people kept streaming in. Apparently, like during most of my sexual encounters, I had come too early.
Ólöf Arnalds stepped onstage and apologised for forgetting one of her guitars. She ran offstage and in a flash was ready to play. Not a guitar but the Hawaiian national instrument, the ukulele. I’ve always dreamt of seeing a woman playing guitar well and singing. My dreams were fulfilled. The closeness that Ólöf generated was so intense I felt she was in my bed. I whispered in her ear “keep playing and I’ll love you”. If there are any feminists reading this who take offence and consider me gender biased I’ll have you know I would review Pétur Ben the same way.
At one point Ólöf forgot her lines and asked Kjartan, Sigur Rós’s keyboard player, if he remembered the lyrics. He wasn’t paying attention but Ólöf came through at last minute. It was things like these that made this experience feel intimate. I felt at home. And that is what concerts should feel like. Families should be like a great concert and great concerts should feel like family.
Amiina started with quirkiness fitting of members of the Icelandic cultural elite. Noise some would say. Others would call it music. To me it was just foreplay. Soon the noise turned into joy and out of chaos came harmony. The tree huggers and I were feeling it. An electric cello, violins and instruments I didn’t even have names for, formed a coalition. mixed with glasses of water and even a saw made it a night to remember.
I was starting to think that the girls weren’t gonna sing, but soon the small mythical creatures started to harmonise perfectly. Being a feminist myself, I loved the fact that I was watching a world-class concert and both the acts were performed solely by women. At one point the four Amiinas were all playing violin family instruments and I was loving it. I don’t know what “amiina” means but from now on, “amiina” will be a female word for soul to me. I think the word amiina kind of sums up the experience.