I stepped into the smoky-as-ever and surprisingly busy Húrra last week for the sixth edition of the Grapevine Grassroots concert series. Umer Consumer was already onstage, and as I weaved my way through the crowd, I became hypnotised by his trippy, hallucinogenic visuals, soul-crushing bass, and raw, emotional vocals that were blasting from the speakers.
What really caught my attention though was the fact that frontman and band mainstay Ýmir had a mixer and a pedal board strapped to his chest. It’s clear that Umer Consumer’s musical abilities have blossomed in the past year, as he’s taken a more brave and experimental approach.
After Umer Consumer’s hypnotic performance, KRÍA showed us their distinctly developed sound involving grungy drum and bass samples played through a drum pad, which blends perfectly with their intense yet appropriately smooth auto-tuned vocals.
Towards the end of their set, KRÍA performed the most interesting rendition of the song “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. It was dark, it was sombre, and it was awesome.
Immediately following KRÍA was COKE HORE with a visual live performance art piece. The audience quickly crowded around Helga to watch, and I had to stand on the stage (and accidentally hit a super loud cymbal in the process) to catch a good view.
She began by taking a large paint roller and painting the plastic sheet-covered wall in white paint, and then throwing herself at the wall over and over. Using the blood that was now dripping from her lips down to her chest as ink, she painted the words, “þú varst hér” (“you were here”). She ran into the wall a few more times, the raw sound of her body slamming against the plastic covered wall, and then picked up the microphone, repeating the words that were gruesomely displayed on the wall before us.
Our attention was then turned to the centre stage for BSÍ, an energetic and super fun pop punk band. The crowd was actually dancing (!!) which is pretty rare here in Iceland (but maybe most people had already downed their fourth beer by the time BSÍ was performing though).
Their set also included a punk pop cover of The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” Some moments in their set included some amazingly fresh dream pop moments reminiscent of Beach House and Cigarettes After Sex. Listening and watching BSÍ’s show was like being at a summer pool party, sipping on some orange soda.
Who knew that music about cars could be so fresh and so interesting? The electric Johnny Blaze & Hakki Brakes synth-pop duo came next, complete with red leather zip-up racing jackets to match. I felt like I was driving in a video game to a pixelated sunset ahead of me, at full speed. The boys even made sound effects in between songs, the kind of sound that you would make if you were actually playing a video game like, “Vroom, VROOOOOM!”
This is honestly the perfect soundtrack for a late night, midnight sun “rúntur” (an Icelandic slang term meaning to drive around in a car with your friends, just for fun). The performance even featured vocals from CYBER’s very own Salka Valsdóttir.
Finally around midnight, was a DJ set from SAKANA. She waved her fiery red hair back and forth as she took us all aboard on to her groovy spaceship. My friend described her set to me as “shotgun house”. It was definitely that and much more, and she kept Húrra dancing until it had to turn up the lights and kick everyone out.