Photo by Hvalreki
Well what a difference a year makes. Grand Rokk, a place where hope and good music went to die is no more. Instead, like a phoenix from the ashes, we have Faktorý. Gone are the slot machines, angry belligerent alcoholics and the smell of rotting fungi, and in its place there are clean floors and walls, a bigger stage and automated paper towel dispensers. It’s the sound of progress I tell you!
So with some lightness in my heart I sit to watch the first band, Yuni in Taxco. And for a starting band, they are exceptionally bright and breezy, playing their US West Coast lo-fi surf pop songs, which is very much the in thing right now. Lots of ‘oh-oh-oh woo-woo-woos’ is the order of the day from their lead singer (Bruce Campbell from the ‘Evil Dead’ films). My only gripe at the time was that there was a guy on the left of the stage who seemed to be doing absolutely fuck all except stand by a games console and playing the tambourine. He was going to be given the tag ‘deadwood’, but I broke the cardinal rule by actually speaking to the band after their set. Turns out that he was actually playing a light sensitive Theremin style instrument that incorporated added loops and samples. Oh, well that’s all right then.
We Aeronauts are a rather meatier prospect as their music completely defied categorisation. From the first song, the guitars gently simmer away as if they were hardly being played. Then the soft brass of the trumpet came into view followed by a very clear direct bass guitar sound. They also seemed to sing a lot of songs about travelling everywhere on planes and stuff. In the end they completely betrayed their folk roots by giving three cheers for Tunng, and then on the penultimate song they stepped away from the microphones and belted out an a capella sea shanty chorus that wouldn’t look out of place in the Wicker Man of a ‘70s BBC drama series. This was actually all pleasant and endearing. They were the musical equivalent of a St Bernard. Soft, cuddly and lovable, but with a lot of power underneath. At least they didn’t turn into Cujo….
Wow, has it been a whole year since Miri played in EXACTLY the same place at the EXACT same night on Airwaves? It seems it has. And they have improved a lot. Their post rock sound is now more rock than post, grafting ‘90s styles such as Yo La Tengo and Pavement. This meant that people were actually now dancing and moving to their music, which didn’t happen before. But they are still suffering from the same problem of exhibiting huge amounts of yo-bro cock rock poses, gurns and postures. Getting better, but still a work in progress…
Now that post rock hour is over, we now head for different waters with Pagan Wanderer Lu. A singular man who has a passing resemblance to John Peel, he armed himself with some Gameboys, a laptop and guitar and started to belt out a lot of DIY agitprop electronic wibbling. Sound wise he came across as very ‘80s with the likes of Gary Numan and Robert Palmer. But when the guitar came into play, it sounded more like Jesus Jones. But his demeanour was excellent. He radiated a huge amount of anger and old school class warfare as on the final song, he left all his instruments to overload and feedback while he joined the crowd for a good old fashioned pogo dance. I imagine in another life he would have been an embittered lefty science teacher who would have spent his hours trolling the comments section of the Daily Mail. Result!
I actually was expecting a huge amount from Bastardgeist from listening to their stuff on MySpace. And at the beginning their look is striking for a duo, as the female singer is an Amazonian Tilda Swinton whom you can’t take your eyes off, while the male singer is bent over furiously playing what looked like some kind of electric thumb piano. Their music started off fine, a semblance of cold darkwave electronic music with folk-ish vocal stylings. But as their set progressed, their music became rather same-y and one dimensional. It was a very fine dimension for sure, but ultimately a very tall striking woman can only hold your attention for so long.
Now how the fuck did Sudden Weather Change morph into Miri? When did that happen? A while back, their alt-rock contained tight bursts of energetic fury. But now they’ve completely flabbed out with the songs feeling like they last more than 10 minutes. This rendered what was endearing about them at the beginning (a bunch of kids shouting to loud guitars) into something that was ultimately annoying and aggravating. Perhaps Dr Gunni should sit them down and give them a lesson about the need to tighten their sonic belts.
Déjà vu is proved to be real as ANOTHER band that played in the same venue on the same night last year approaches the stage. Back then, DLX ATX was justifiably hated on for an appalling set, but this reviewer has seen them since then and was convinced it was just a bad day at the office. But in the past year the drummer has left and DLX ATX has morphed into a ‘psychedelic noise collective’. And ‘noise’ was the appropriate adjective. Their set consisted of ONE song with no breaks. And it looked and sounded a complete fucking mess. This reviewer likes noisy drone a lot and has tracks on his music collection that last well over an hour. But you need to be aware that a piece has a beginning, some sort of structure and an end. Otherwise you just feel trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare that will never end. Of course the crowd sensed this too and they all scampered for the hills. I managed to take thirty minutes before writing down “sod this” and walking outside to the blessed night air. Funny, this happened last year as well.
All of this doesn’t set you in the right mood for the final band of the night, Æla, which is a shame as it wasn’t really their fault. But their show is a 100% more entertaining with an actual real light show and energy and other things like that. Showcasing some of their newer material (and a new band member), they sounded lot like Purrkur Pillnikk, which, if you’re going to plunder an old sound, is not a bad thing at all. Kudos as well for the guitarists discovering cordless power packs that allowed them to run around the venue like a bunch of crazy loons.
In the end I leave Faktorý with the strange feeling that I will be reviewing exactly the same bands in the same place next year. Perhaps I could just copy and paste this review so I can stay in bed for an extra hour…
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!
Posted October 16, 2010