Middle East Music Fest - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Middle East Music Fest

Middle East Music Fest

Published July 29, 2008

Photos by
GAS

A Palestine benefit concert in Iceland – not an obvious event for a Thursday night at Organ, but who cares when they mix and match some pretty decent music with the sort of awkward harmony that’s sadly missing from the aforementioned region.
    Gunnar Jónsson started the evening of strange bedfellows with a selection of tracks that highlighted his impressive solo skills and warming voice, including a cover of Neil Young’s ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’. An odd choice considering its opiate subject matter but memorable due to his passionate performance, a theme carried on by Númer Núll, who impressed with their soaring Feeder-esque riffs and a substantial amount of noodling that Tom Morello would have cast a wry smile at.
    As the evening progressed, the music got heavier and heavier but this was almost perfectly in tune with the audience; the crowd built and levels of enthusiasm crept up from a rather stale 8pm start to a rowdy reception for three-piece punk band Morðingjarnir. Their set sparkled with humour, energy and blasts of metal that happily defied the language barrier to leave everyone wondering what else the organisers could throw into the musical mixing pot.
    The evening, thus far, hadn’t seen much involvement from the fairer sex but that in-balance was more than redressed by another punk-influenced trio, Viðurstyggð. Reminiscent, perhaps lazily so, of infamous female grunge band L7, they performed a set that was both smile-inducing and laced with acerbic musical wit, all backed by a grinding bass/lead guitar duo. Viðurstyggð describe themselves as being ‘bitter girls’ but they translate this into a far happier experience than the description would suggest, despite their dense Icelandic lyrics and low-fi nature.
    They finished the evening with a slightly angry-sounding number (perhaps influenced by the political nature of the event) that was mostly sung by their drummer, who perversely seemed to be happiest person in the room. Who wants to see Don Henley warbling away from behind a kit when, all in the name of a good cause, you had the beaming Helga doing something much more interesting? 

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