From Iceland — Ganging Up

Ganging Up

Published October 6, 2007

Ganging Up

The new live venue, Organ has been a pleasant surprise for regular concertgoers in Reykjavík. The place runs an ambitious program, and it is pretty much a given that you can walk in there, Wednesday through Saturday night and see interesting bands play there. Kudos for Organ! On a Thursday night, late September, I walked in to Organ to see two interesting bands. One was interesting to me, since I had not heard them play before, the other because I had heard them play before and they impressed me immensely.

The first band to step on stage that evening was they five piece Royal Fortune. This is a folksy pop group with considerable artistic ambition, about to release their first album. They brought a wide array of instrument out on stage, most of which they could actually play. Their music is at times low key and simple, almost naïveistic, but they shoot for overwrought crescendos that never managed to move me. I was a little annoyed for they came off as they were trying too hard to impress, using too many obscure instruments to create obscure sounds that ruined the solemn feeling they managed to bring out occasionally. But, when they took the full step, and dropped all their pop pretentiousness to create a more simple artistry, they developed soundscapes that were worthy of interest. Their album will likely hit home with a certain group of audience but I remain unconvinced.

Benny Crespo’s Gang, however, is a band that I could probably listen to live for full two days without getting bored. These four kids have been around for a while, but they have not played much as of late. This might well be related to band member Lovísa’s busy schedule with her solo project Lay Low. In any case, I was excited to see them perform as it had been close to a year since last saw them in concert.

Benny Crespo’s Myspace site lists their influences as Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age, Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead, PJ, Rage Against the Machine, The Pixies, and At The Drive In, among others; but I would say that they have managed to create a sound that is undeniably theirs. The band has a new album coming out in the next few weeks, and they mainly played songs from their upcoming release, but capped things off with the great Johnny Has Got a Baby. Their progressive indie sound is full of aggressive riffs, thundering bass plots and crazy synths that create a thick wall of layered sounds. Their drummer looks like he was built to run through a brick house and plays like a man possessed. Overall, it was great display.

If this performance is anything to go by, Benny Crespo’s upcoming release will be one of this year’s best. I recommend you go see them live. Get in on the hype early.

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