From Iceland — ATP Friday: Sweetness, Sadness And Rock

ATP Friday: Sweetness, Sadness And Rock

Published July 4, 2015

ATP Friday: Sweetness, Sadness And Rock
Gabríel Benjamin
Photo by
Johanna Persson

Following yesterday’s fantastic run at Andrews Theatre, I decided I wanted to see as much of the Bedroom Community’s curated venue as possible until Godspeed You! Black Emperor took the stage at Atlantic Studios. Even though this meant I was constantly running from place to place, I still felt content with what I saw of the performances.


My evening began seeing CeaseTone at the theatre. The winners of ATP’s Unsigned Talent competition, this group of kids from Hafnafjörður looked extremely happy to be there. They had previously won an award at Músiktilraunir 2013 (Battle of the Bands competition) and had started playing on the circuit, but this was a massive step-up for them, and they were obviously making the most of it. As Bedroom Community’s co-founder Valgeir Sigurðsson told us: “we thought they had the potential to be an exciting live band.” They played decent enough pop-rock, but what brought the show to life was their energetic stage presence. They have plenty of rough edges to smooth out, the lyrics were very high-school-y (“It’s easy being cool when you’re alone / sitting on your imaginary throne”), and some of the songs had a tendency to drag on, but all in all it was good effort.

I hopped over to the main stage to catch Mudhoney, and they were the bomb! It was pure grunge, front and centre—they stepped on without a sound check, and jumped right into it. The crowd soberly cheered on as the band performed a stadium-style show, full of flair and attitude, until enough people woke up and formed the festival’s first mosh pit. The show got even better when Mark Arm put down the guitar to focus on his vocals and stage performance.

Back at the theatre, I caught JFDR inaugural show, and it was a real treat. It’s Jófríður Ákadóttir from Samaris and Pascal Pinon, joined by Úlfur Hansson and Erling Bang (of Celestine and Ojba Rasta), playing dreamy minimal pop made up of soft sounds and whispers. The show felt intimate, reverent and well executed. When I caught Úlfur after the performance, he was smiling ear to ear. He said they had only rehearsed twice together, and was really happy with how well it turned out.

Valgeir Sigurðsson

Next up was composer Valgeir Sigurðsson with cellist Liam Byrne, performing a neo-classical show. The sound was thick and heavy, with a deep bass that sounded at times like raindrops falling down. As the monotonous set went on, the analogue and digital melded together and I felt like I was being transported to another place.

Drive Like Jehu

At the main stage Drive Like Jehu were absolutely rocking out. They were loud, fast, the singer’s throaty screaming voice was fab, and the guitarist sweated like there was no tomorrow! They went from fury to calm and back again, the crowd eating it up, moshing and spilling beer everywhere.

Daníel Bjarnason

Bedroom Community’s final show featured composer/conductor Daníel Bjarnason playing keys with Valgeir and a cellist. The pieces I heard had clear direction and were very dramatic, but I soon ran out because I knew I had to catch the next act. I had to.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

As post-rock legends Godspeed You! Black Emperor stepped on the stage, I felt chills running down my spine. Where people had been pushing and jumping just moments before, they were standing awestruck, drowning in the rich sound. The show was riddled with problems, with the drums, bass, and an amp giving trouble, but the show went on, with the other members improvising as technicians sorted things out. The crowd seemed to be under a spell, mesmerised, only roused briefly by the intrusive smell of someone lighting up a blunt. People smiled, laughed, and then fell back into the trance.

GY!BE started by playing their new album Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress in its entirety—all four songs! The audience members that were tall enough, or close enough to the stage, got to enjoy watching the musicians messing around with their instruments, playing guitars with screwdrivers, bows, and other tools as they performed songs that felt like a good sob—the build-up was long and sad, the sound got louder, and then there was an explosive release.

They ended with one of their more famous songs, but for the life of me I can’t remember if it was “Moya” or “East Hastings,” I was far too immersed in the moment. And then, suddenly, it was over. A feeling of emptiness was my companion on the bus ride home, and I woke up still thinking of the show.

More from the GV’s ATP coverage

ATP Saturday: Hit And Miss
#ATP15 Final Night Review: Muddy Lineup

A Chill And Relaxed Friday For ATP Iceland

ATP Thursday: Beautifully Diverse Aesthetic
You Down With ATP? Yeah You Know Me! – Intern Hannah’s Top 5 Of Last Night
#ATP15 First Night: Not Too Stabby

All Tomorrow’s Parties Are Happening RIGHT NOW!
ATP Special: Bedroom Community Selects
ATP Special: What To Do In Keflavík!

Trip provided by Reykjavík Excursions.

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