Old Blue Last, in the middle of prennial London hipster-haven Shoreditch, makes for an interesting music venue. On one hand, the Vice Media operated club is small and frequently packed to the point of discomfort with the sort of folk you might imagine would frequent a Vice operated Shoreditch venue. However, they do book some solid shows, and the security is relaxed and allows for free expression for performers and audience alike.
What I’m saying is: going there is sometimes worth it. One such occasion was about a month ago, on March 24, where they offered a bill featuring two Icelandic acts that struck my curiosity, Good Moon Deer and M-Band. After an internal debate, I decided to leave my prejudice at home and head down to check them out (sorry, also-performing AKDK).
In an incredible twist of luck the venue was not rammed, but rather comfortably filled with a slightly older Scandi looking crowd (and three raver hippies right at the front). I was happy to have the space and sanity to take in the gig.
First up was Good Moon Deer. There is not an abundance of his current music online to sample, but what I had managed to come by I liked a lot. I came there looking forward to this. Performing without his standard live drummer, Good Moon Deer mastermind Guðmundur produced an electro set that was scattered, jumpy, full of bass, occasionally ambient and, at times, almost clumsy. However, despite all the contradictions it worked amazingly, and most certainly brought the party. Teamed with some eye-catching lighting, the mash up of styles, texture and tempo got the crowd moving, deeply involved in the proceedings. I would definitely go out of my way to see him perform again.
M-Band followed and took it down a notch or two. Beginning with a primal, Eastern influenced vocal call reminiscent of his work with Tonik Ensemble, M-Band employed synths, drum machines and some strong vocals to build up layered atmospheric, melancholy loops that broke into techno passages. The music was melodic, hypnotic and intense; the audience was thoroughly engaged throughout the set.
One aspect of M-Band’s set that should be mentioned I feel is the artist’s body language and movement. Performing bare foot, M-Band’s Hörður cuts an intimidating figure, tall and skinny, often twitching, paying little attention to the audience. One could argue that he is simply immersed in his music, but I found it a bit self-indulgent and unsettling at times, to the point that it detracted slightly from the performance at large. That said, there is no doubt that he is a talented musician, and whatever dance moves he pulls certainly won’t lose him any fans.
I left the venue that night satisfied with the music I had taken in, and perhaps with a slightly higher opinion of Old Blue Last.
Not bad at all.
Good Moon Deer, M-Band, AKDK. Old Blue Last, London, UK. March 24, 2015.