The evening started quietly at Hressingarskálinn on Saturday evening, not a lot of commotion going on as venue opener Jara took the stage. Being the first one up, she was obviously dealing with a rather tired and stiff crowd.
Jara played for a little over an half an hour, for a crowd of around 25 people. She talked to the crowd between songs, telling them cute stories of where the songs had been written and memories they were bringing back, this was sweet and brought her closer to the crowd, which still wasn’t properly warmed up.
Her music is a mixture of dramatic ambiance music and esoteric horror pop, with Jara doing vocals and keyboard, assisted by a cello and electric guitar. I felt that the keyboard and cello went well together, but the guitar felt unnecessary, too dominating for the kind of music she appeared to be trying to create – in the end, the guitar uncomfortably towered over the warm sounds of the keyboard, cello and Jara’s voice.
The rather boring crowd didn’t applaude when Jara finished her last song, and even though it wasn’t exactly an upbeat concert, I felt she deserved more.
Epic Rain heat it up
Next up were Epic Rain, a band rooted in underground hip-hop playing their first and only official gig this Airwaves. They have been playing together at least four years and it shows, as they are very much at ease performing together.
Their stage presence had a cool ambiance about it, the members giving off a vibe of being very comfortable in their own skin and with what they were doing as they chain smoked cigarettes and delivered some solid music. The effort and thought they put into their lyrics and beats was very apparent – every song was a full-fledged story of its own. The band slowly won over the room, the crowd eventually moving along to their beats, responding to the music. Overall I was impressed, and as they left I made a note to check out their releases and keep my eyes open for their next show.
Boogie Trouble boogie about
Boogie Trouble wwere playing for the sixth time on Saturday evening. And boy did they not seem tired at all. They came on stage ready to boogie and gave the show everything they had. As soon as they started playing, the audience started dancing along.
The group is formed by various artists from diffrent bands in Reykjavík (including Sprengjuhöllin and Bárujárn), who are all there to do but one thing: get the disco going in your ears and your body. And they most certainly managed to bring it to Hressó’s dancefloor at Hressó.
On-stage, the group is fun, upbeat and energetic, radiating an infectious joie de vivre. Their set included a disco version of Britney Spears’ Toxic, and got the crowd moving and singing along. And behold! Boogie Trouble have an album in the making! Thank the disco gods!
Aðalsteinn Jörundsson, AKA AMFJ, takes over for the rest of the night
Beat heavy, synth driven lolita fantasy is maybe not the most correct way to describe Halleluwah, but it’s definitely the first thing that comes to mind. It has to be said that they work well within this frame. The singer’s childishly sincere charisma was well complemented by the rhythm section, and her voice even had some pretty good moments from time to time that were more appealing than her Marilyn Monroe-esque demeanor. I always feel a little bit reserved when a front person of a band plays more into his or her sexuality than the music, and I could see some members of the audience felt the same. But Halleluwah are a well accomplished band, and I could see them go somewhere if they hold their cards right.
The next scheduled act, rapper Emmsjé Gauti, was at home with the bug and we got stuck with Úlfur Úlfur who have been on the receiving end of quite a few negative reviews this year. I’m not going to say that such reviews are totally unwarranted, the band come off as an obnoxious bunch, but they do have some decent singalongs that seem to engage their closest friends at the front of the stage.
The beats are lazy but sometimes they accompany the needlessly fast rhymes of the rappers and there were times when this was a good thing. Other times, though, it was just bland. I liked the sound treatments… sometimes. Especially in the song they introduced as being “pretty weird.” The lyrics were different takes on the state of being fucked up and given the overall intelligence of the songs it is definitely in their favour to mention that only one song included the exact phrase “fokkt opp”. As their set progressed they had managed to draw a decent crowd that were into them. It may be white, and it may be “bro” and totally void of having any kind of message or an important story, but they manage to entertain and they are successful in catering some good times to a demographic who don’t give a shit about anything but.
After listening to half of Kött Grá Pjé’s set I was filled with a bit of a dread: how can I review this band without repeating the review of Úlfur Úlfur almost word for word. It’s the same kind of pointless fun for the sake of the good times, which they actually deliver. The beats are a tiny bit fatter, they have a harsher more nerdy swag about them. I prefer them to the night’s other incarnation of Icelandic Bro Hop