Sometimes instinct is everything. When I put my hand up to take the job of reviewing Hressó, I thought I was going to see some crap noise/punk bands. Memories of last year flooded back to seeing the lead singer of Fist Fokkers, a man so white and anaemic that I could see his heart like a newborn fish. Of course when I saw the line-up my heart sank more like a fish that had been swimming near Chernobyl. Where’s the Rock? Where’s the fun? Indeed where’s the SOUL?? Well that may have happened later…
The first person up is Lydia and the first thing that screams out to me is Ólafur Arnalds illegitimate sister! Her music is so similar, right down to the String duo and the apple laptop, I starting thinking that there must be some evil scheme going on to extract Ólafur’s DNA against his will to create an army of super clones. It certainly didn’t help that parts of her songs were getting drowned out by the sound of the portable bar cooling the beer kegs.
When Svavar Knútur came on with his Ukulele I thought ‘oh, here we go.’ It certainly wasn’t bad, although his Australian singling partner did have some truly awful songs. Time drags on a bit and there is some rugby on the screen in the bar next door. I’m not saying that I spent half my time watching European rugby, but the final score was 31-23 to the French team.
My belief in negative karma was truly confirmed when Björt arrived on stage. With Desperate Silence, she wins the prize for having the most lyrical clichés you can cram in a song (“Raised by the sunbeams,” “Dance under the moonlight,” “Floating in desperate silence,” etc. etc.). Indeed, she introduces the song by saying, “try to close your eyes and imagine the times when you were younger and could see the lovely clouds and pink elephants.” I did this, but it only brought back some repressed abuse memories that I managed to tap down with more beer. At least she had more stage presence than Lay Low…
At this point two things saved me. One was the lovely staff of Hressó, who took some form of pity on me and kept plying me with more alcohol to soothe the pain that was assaulting my ears. The other was the next act, Toggi. Here it was just him and his guitar, but at least he understands what a stripped down sound should be like. Simple acoustic guitar with a voice barely affected with some reverb. Add to this some decent songs, this is the first time this evening I can truly say that I listened to music without grinding my teeth. Good work fella!
Then on come Hraun…. At first, my notes are only full of wrath was it turns out that Svavar Knútur is also the lead singer here… AND HE´S SINGING THE SAME SONGS AS BEFORE! I started thinking if some double charging scam was going on, when it happened. And by happened, I mean a major Brain Spazz for Hraun. About three songs into their set, they decide to throw away their wistful indie folk and replace it with some full on surf punk re-imagining of their songs. It was sort of like when Dylan went electric (well okay the Euroshopper version), as some of the Icelandic audience definitely were truly surprised that Hraun could rock so hard! I swore for a second that the Bass player had morphed into one of the members of Severed Crotch. Truly frightening, in a good way.
By the time Árstíðir come on, it’s all but over. They had some nice harmonies and their songs had a lovely 60´s folk rock feel to them, but after Hraun´s antics it al feels like a massive comedown and nobody is really listening. I certainly think that they should hunt Hraun down and ‘have a chat’ with them about not stealing their thunder, because I most certainly would. I venture out into the later nightlife of Airwaves seeking excitement and danger and I get Batteríið for my troubles.
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Posted October 16, 2009