Published March 16, 2018
Our writers went into the breach last night to check out the warm-up night for Sónar Reykjavík 2018. Here’s what they discovered.
My first night at Sónar Reykjavík 2018 was a journey from light towards darkness. The first stop was at the KEX Hostel basement. It was advertised as a ‘club night’ warm-up, and the festival’s first off-venue event, hosted at the raw, former factory location. With a temporary bar selling cold drinks, a powerful sound system blasting at peak volume and colorful lights, classic strobes, and a special VJ set for each act on the schedule added to the sensation. The space had been delicately fine-tuned to fit the Sónar Reykjavík vibe. I was sad to miss the first act of the night–the up-and-coming Án, but was able to see two disparate but prominent entities from Iceland’s electronic music world.
Firstly there was Hermigervill who served the crowd a set of his extravagant and energetic electro-pop—his signature dish–with a side of Berlin-style—but still upbeat—techno. It seems he has dropped his electronic covers of known Icelandic pop songs schtick in favour of Western European club influences. For the most part, not bad at all—although his 2012 remix of Retro Stefson felt a bit out of place.
Second on stage was the mildly anticipated Captain Fufanu reunion. Yes, that Fufanu–the rock band that first got people’s attention for long live techno performances in various Reykjavík venues as a duo in the late noughtiest until their course changed. They delivered a pounding set that started out quite dark and droney, and rolled slowly to a steady conclusion. The crowd was responsible for numerous whoops and kept the dance floor full until the end. The sound-man–who did a marvelous job by the way–should have allowed the crowd’s applause and cheer to last a bit longer before putting on the playback music. Their performance was long overdue and got a lot of love at tonight’s event. An extremely humble 10th anniversary for Captain Fufanu.
I ended my night at the FALK Records label night at Húrra where I caught the end of a well planned event put together by a group of people who are serious. Serious about making sure people in Iceland get a chance to hear music that is both wonderful and strange. I had never listened to Varg–the Swedish cross-genre musician–before tonight. His set went from a slow and jagged intro–a robotic nightmare–to a conclusion of rave dungeon vibes. He also used hip hop samples, which somehow made sense in Varg’s world, and its conscious disarray. The sound system at the previous party spoiled me though. His deep and rumbling bass sounds would have sounded better there. AJE
Unabashed noise, uncontrollable mirth
Perhaps I started off Sónar on the wrong foot by missing one of the best performances of the weekend. (And before it officially begins!) I didn’t even have to be there to know that IDK IDA stunned the audience with her nebulous blend of organic vocals and industrial electronics.
I arrived late to the party but even toward the end of the night, several artists later, people were still talking about her. Varg, a dark-hearted DJ darling of the ever-progressive Swedish music scene, was just taking command when I stepped into Húrra. Slipping in just short clips of melodic beats between his slow-moving, atonal electro noise, he failed to keep the attention of most of the late-night crowd. It was to their own detriment that the audience casually thinned out throughout his set – it was only getting better and better as the people left. So by the end, it was the hardcore fans and dance maniacs left to enjoy the proper techno pounding of his more club-friendly production.
The highlight for me, though, was the sole vocal refrain that sounded something like “I hate all cops” and possibly something about wanting to kill them. I don’t know if it was the seeming misplacement of such a statement in such an unlikely place or my inclination to agree with it, but I couldn’t contain my laughter each time I bellowed out again. Although slow-going, the set was a fair introduction to the tenets of the festival still to come: unexpected perspectives, unabashed noise, and uncontrollable mirth. GDF
Read more Sónar Reykjavík reviews tomorrow!