More than two weeks ago, California rappers Rae Sremmurd left sunny LA for cloudy Reykjavík, armed with a pair of mics and a determination to tear down Laugardalshöll. After the debacle that was DJ Snoopadelic, I was honestly not expecting much from the show, but still, I was excited to get down to catchy hits like No Type and Throw Sum Mo. If you are not acquainted with the Sremmurd brothers, check out this video, it should tell you everything you need to know.
The boys were accompanied by Retro Stefson, Gísli Pálmi ( <3 ), and American rapper Pell (from New Orleans). I arrived midway through Retro Stefson’s set. I’ve never gotten to properly see them perform before, but I was pleasantly surprised—the group is really groovy. There’s something disarming about them and I think it’s that they totally dig their own music, probably more than you do. With big smiles, you know that they aren’t just performing for the crowd, they’d be grinning just as big playing alone in their garage. The group’s enjoyment is contagious—you can’t help but like them. The crowd was not at its loudest or largest during their set, but everyone still seemed happy and I imagine that at the front there were some people gettin’ cray.
Arnar Freyr Frostason (aka one half of Úlfur Úlfur): “I swear to god that I saw like a 10 or 11-year-old on the shoulders of his father, rapping every word of every song while bustin crazy ass moves. I’ve never seen a baby this turnt.”
GP was, as always, on point. I don’t think I’ve ever written, said or thought anything negative about him, but honestly this was one of the best performances I’ve seen of the Glacier Mafia Don (second only to Secret Solstice). Say what you will about his wigga-ness, but he fucking owns it. I do have one question though: does he ever take his sunglasses off? What is he hiding? What’s under there? (Send theories to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pell though, was the most impressive of the openers for me. The boy is from New Orleans (as he repeatedly and methodically mentioned) and he’s technically quite a skilled rapper. Though I personally believe that he needs to cut down on the keyboard solos, he seems sweet, likeable, and somewhat humble. In a lot of ways, you could tell he was just jazzed that anyone wanted to listen to his music.
Gaukur Grétuson (aka GKR): “Usually I don’t like these “big artist – Laugardalshöll – no age restriction” type of concerts, because the vibes can get very weird when you have older folks, drunk young people, teenagers and then 10-year-olds all in the same room (like the Frank Ocean concert), BUT I didn’t feel that vibe at Rae Sremmurd!”
The crowd loved him too. The majority of the audience fell within the 11 – 16 year old range and from Gísli Pálmi on, they were fucking turnt up. Pell clearly was not used to such a large and raucous reaction. He kept doing the, “When I say this, you say this”-game and then seemed genuinely shocked that the entirety of the crowd responded aggressively. Like physically “is-this-a-prank?” disarmed. He outright noted this a few times, essentially telling the crowd, “Guys, you do realise that at some concerts, no one responds?” I imagine he flew out of Keflavík believing that Iceland is the best country ever. (He’s right, right?)
Karl Torsten Ställborn (from Muck and Fufanu): “A lot of children… and the sound guy sucked. But they were funny with the iPhones and all that. And don’t forget the parents with the children…”
Rae Sremmurd were on next. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the majority of their vocals came from playback and it kind of pissed me off. I know, I know, Gísli Pálmi does the same thing, but Sremmurd’s playback and overall sound mixing was such shit that it made their lack-of-actual-rapping somewhat unbearable. The boys were completely aware of this though—they literally called out the sound guy for fucking up multiple times. Had I known it would be this poor, I would have put my earphones on and just watched them dance on stage. It would have sounded better.
But the boys are fun and cute and everyone in the crowd was going crazy. I was next to a group of five or so ~15 year old girls, and I really hope they were drunk because they were falling over each other dancing and screaming. It was like 4:00 AM B5 or Paloma basement-level madness.
Stefán Þor Hjartarson: “Unsurprisingly, Laugardalshöllin was filled with miniature fuccbois, and I felt like I was at Samfés, which did make me feel old and a lot like I worked at these kids’ school. I even kind of stopped a fight between two teenage girls (I accidentally bumped into one of them and she fell to the floor which allowed some other teenagers to get between the two of them and stop the fight).
What did surprise me though were these kids that were probably between the ages of 8 – 10, with their parents, reciting the lyrics to every song, including “Come Get Her” (‘come get her, she’s dancing like a stripper…’). I was way too sober for the occasion, but their performance was nearly able to break the cool pokerface that I use for every rap show that I go to.”
At the same time though, the night made me feel… old. Surrounded by turnt teens aged 11-16, I was distinctly reminded of how I used to party before being old enough to go to bars. On that note, they weren’t even serving alcohol at the main bar! Instead, there was a special ‘Adult’ bar off to the side where you could buy drinks, hidden from view of the youngins’. Yes, I am now in the class of people who has to go to the old people bar to drink. Jesus Christ. It was 21:00 and these teenagers were going crazy. I was way too sober to get on their level.
Þórður Ingi Jónsson (aka Lord Pu$$whip): “I was with a large squad of people my age so I didn’t feel too much like I was attending an elementary school dance. I had a lot of fun seeing Rae—they have a lot of raw energy and it was fun to get a sneak peek of the new Travis $cott album, which hadn’t been leaked at the time. I think there were too many warm-up acts and the sound was bad to the point that the Sremmurd brothers were pissed off complaining about it in the mic. To be honest, the sound has been pretty shit at a lot of hip hop concerts with large acts here recently. Bummer, dude! Also – the warm-up act they brought, Pell, was fun!”
But though I was nowhere near as loopy as the majority of the concert-goers, there was some magic: walking out of the concert and the first Northern Lights of the season came into view. They were faint and un-photographable, but still beautiful. The faint greenish view outlined a mob of fans waiting to meet both Rae Sremmurd and Gísli Pálmi. I thought about joining them, only to get a selfie to end this article with a bang, but I held back. You know, cups with the ice and we do this every night—all that shit. I’ll be back.
Emmsjé Gauti: “They were just saying Thank You when I arrived… 🙁 “