From Iceland — While Six Guitars Gently Weep

While Six Guitars Gently Weep

Published April 15, 2024

While Six Guitars Gently Weep
Photo by
Joana Fontinha for The Reykjavík Grapevine

Supergroup of the Reykjavík Do-It-Together scene shares a beautiful and impressive night at Mengi

On a windy Skírdagur, six guitars lay resting against six chairs on a stage with six glowing candles balancing on amps inside Mengi. This was the scene at musician Stirnir Kjartansson’s concert featuring an ensemble of six guitars playing his music. The sextet was a supergroup of Reykjavík’s finest in the DIY/DIT scene, connected by the post-dreifing artist collective.

Joana Fontinha for The Reykjavík Grapevine

Joining Stirnir on guitar were Bjarni Daníel Þorvaldsson and Hugi Kjartansson of Supersport!, Krummi Uggason and Vigfús Þór Eiríksson of Sucks to be you Nigel, and Simon Valentin Hirt, known by the musical moniker simmi.

Joining halfway through the set were musician and R6013 founder Ægir Sindri Bjarnason on drums and Fríða Björg Pétursdóttir of GRÓA on bass.

If three’s a crowd, six is a show

In the first five minutes of the show, I found myself already impressed by the group’s symbiosis. Then, as if they had heard my thoughts, the six, entirely in sync, flipped their guitars 360º, caught them and continued the song flawlessly.

Joana Fontinha for The Reykjavík Grapevine

Stirnir’s style transcends genres, from lo-fi to noise rock, shoegaze to experimental. The instrument of the night suited his range impressively. It was an homage to the versatility of the guitar — and Stirnir himself. His latest release, Apple Pie & <3 the Razor, continues this menagerie of genre.

Intended as a release show for the album, the group played its first song, “I Don’t Know if I’m Gonna Get It Right” — and it was an impressive feat that saw Stirnir repeat the title throughout, ranging from soft admission to screaming pleas.

Go electric

At the midway point of the evening, the ensemble transitioned from acoustic to electric guitars as they played. The musicians stood up one by one, handing off their acoustic guitar, blowing out a candle, and setting up their electric guitars to rejoin the song. The stage lights grew brighter, and the group’s energy grew more emphatic.

Spotlighting the duality of the night, they performed one song twice — once acoustic, once electric. As the group tuned their instruments between songs, Stirnir asked the crowd, “Which version did you like better?” After a moment of consideration, someone in the audience shouted their reply: “Both!”

Joana Fontinha for The Reykjavík Grapevine

I couldn’t come up with a better answer myself — the talent that the sextet displayed acoustic, and the entire band electric, was truly captivating. It was impossible to choose a favourite moment.

The last song of the night was epic. Better put, the last song of the night was an epic. Over 18 minutes long, the song had a full narrative with peaks of jumping and dancing and screaming, the crowd the most active they had been yet, and dissipating away as Stirnir let his guitar hang limp around his neck and one band member after the other turned to face their amps, creating feedback to play us out.

After the band left the stage, a sizable proportion of the crowd began chanting. “Meira! Meira! Meira! Meira!” Unfortunately, the band did not return to the stage. In the introduction to the last song of the night, Stirnir had told us, “We might not ever play again, but that’s just the way it is. So you’re lucky if you’re here.” Very lucky we were indeed.

Stirnir’s latest release will be available in physical formats, “very, very soon”. Be the first in the know by following the artist on Instagram, @stirnir.

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