As Nasa is closing its doors on June 1, it was with great grief that I walked through the lobby of the soon to be demolished concert venue to see GusGus perform one last time. More than any other Icelandic band, GusGus has made the place their home base for the past six years, one where I’ve experienced countless hours of their bombastic bliss.
As I made my way inside, Margeir—arguably the slickest looking DJ in the country—was warming up the crowd. He left his turntables around 11 o’clock and the familiar sound of GusGus’s pumping tech house began to throb its way through the speakers while the band’s logo was projected onto the curtain. Then the logo gave way to real time video footage of the men hidden behind it: the group’s soul mechanics, Biggi Veira and President Bongo. They were knob twisting hard behind an array of computers, synthesizers and other gadgets, and the footage was drenched in multi-coloured psychedelic filters. The spectacle was very trippy and visually impressive to say the least.
The curtain fell and the group’s three singers, Daníel Águst, Högni and Earth, came on the stage. Greeted by a massive applause from the sold out house, they began performing the title song from their latest release, ‘Arabian Horse.’ With “Disappear into the dust,” Daníel Ágúst mournfully sang in elongated notes and I couldn’t help wondering if he was singing about the imminent closing of the venue. Dandy as always, he waved his arms and floated around the stage like a peacock during mating season.
She’s thinking of me
The show’s set list consisted mainly of material from their latest album and among the highlights were Högni’s passionate performances of “Within You” and “Deep Inside.” He expressed himself mostly with his hands as his face was often hidden behind his long blond hair as if he were Cousin Itt from the Addams Family.
Earth is the de facto house diva of Iceland and she absolutely nailed “David,” which has got to be one of the sexiest songs in the history of Icelandic music. Just the stuttering synth line that opens it sent a tingle through my spine and her sultry vocals cooing “I am thinking of you” made me feel like she was singing directly to me (full disclosure: I have never met Earth, though for obvious name-related reasons I sometimes like to fantasize that the song is about my humble self).
Blitzkrieg on the senses
By this point the feeling of grief I had upon arriving had turned into one of celebration. The beginning of “Add This Song” was a full on Blitzkrieg on the senses. The bass drum kicked you in the stomach with each beat and strobe lights on steroids bombarded your pupils. If anybody in the audience had a faint hint of epilepsy they probably would have had a seizure. You could feel the wobbly bass and trance-y synth lines on your skin and then Daníel’s soulful voice cut through it all and added the emotional core at the heart of the song.
After a stretched out version of “Over” where all three singers shined, the whole group left the stage for the all too predictable encore. They came back for an extended version of the downright dirty and aptly titled instrumental “Lust” from their 2007 album ‘Forever.’ President Bongo came to the front of the stage and declared proudly “We are GusGus. You are wonderful. Together we are invincible!” as he lifted up his muscular arms and just stood there like a statue in the middle of the stage while the lighting guy went berserk on his rig and the pornofied pulsating bass line blared away. We, the audience, had witnessed a visual and sonic extravaganza and though I’m still sad about the death of Nasa, it couldn’t have had a better wake.