From Iceland — Atmospheric Basement

Atmospheric Basement

Published January 13, 2006

Atmospheric Basement

Some bands are possessed of an eerie, if not very adventurous, talent: The ability to sound almost exactly the same live as they do on record. Worm Is Green is definitely such a band. They relied completely on the atmosphere of the venue and of their music to set the scene, and it is to their credit that this almost worked. There was, however, a rather large hole in this plan: the music, as well as the venue, was about as exciting as finding an old, damp sock under your pillow.
Slow, quiet melodies that possessed neither a hint of ambition nor originality bounced listlessly off the plain concrete walls and the equally plain audience; my scowl at the rape of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart was quite possibly the most animated gesture during the entire set, the band’s actions included. Stage presence must be a dirty word in the Akranes music scene. Perhaps they merely needed a bit more time; Synthia, their last song of the evening, gracefully accomplished what seem to be their musical goals: hollow, minute synth melodies coupled with finely-crafted, idiosyncratic lyrics about loneliness and depressed robots. They even shifted their weight from one foot to the other when they really got into it.
It’s intriguing to consider what a typical Icelandic band Bang Gang are. They consist of an eccentric frontman, an attractive, sweet-voiced female singer and a few members of Ensími (you can’t throw a rock at the Icelandic music scene without hitting one); all are in their late twenties or early thirties. They have a modicum of dress sense and have achieved a measure of popularity in France with their self-indulgent, brooding yet ‘intellectual’ music that is unremarkable in every way, save for the fact that it was written by Icelandic people.
They also had the dubious distinction of performing covers that far outshone any of their own compositions; The Supremes’ Stop In The Name Of Love rocked in a way it was never intended to, and The Stooges’ I Want To Be Your Dog was predictable, but entertaining. Most endearing of all, however, was their final encore: a mostly improvised rendition of Lee Hazlewood’s Summer Wine, during which it became abundantly clear that their lead singer, Barði, was by far the worst singer of the lot, but in the end, it was he who saved the night with the completely retarded witticisms he delivered between songs.
Among his anecdotes were a recent incident involving him dropping his cellphone into a toilet, only to read about it in a local paper the next day, and a quick course on how to end your song with a cleverly timed drum break. Other band members were not as fortunate when it came to their own recitals; bassist Guðni’s tale was made completely inaudible by the fact that an incredibly loud drum solo was being performed simultaneously. Ah, if only Barði’s music could outshine his hacksaw wit, but that would be asking too much. All in all, it was an adequate night, where everyone did more or less what was expected of them, although it would have been great without all that pesky original music. Tame.

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