From Iceland — Professionals, At The Top Of Their Game

Professionals, At The Top Of Their Game

Published September 12, 2011

Professionals, At The Top Of Their Game
Ragnar Egilsson

While their fifteen years of experience explain the on-stage swagger, it’s remarkable to witness the influence GusGus have in the Icelandic club scene.
GusGus recently released a kind-of manifesto where they urged for concerts in Iceland to start earlier. This decision was partly so the concerts would cut less into the clublife and partly to allow the older section of the Icelandic music scenes to be done at a reasonable hour so they can get home to free the babysitter. But despite starting at the ungodly hour (for Iceland) of 10 PM, the house was filled to the rafters with party hungry fans. If anyone can usher in a change to the Icelandic concert landscape, it would be GusGus.
The show was infused with the usual potpourri of sportswear cologne and hipster BO. GusGus attracts a bizarrely diverse fanbase on an average night. But while the downtown rats were in attendance and there was a good twenty-year age spread, the 20–25 year old suburban fist-pumpers dominated the scene. I had to navigate the crowd carefully to avoid stray kids, who blinded by their ray bans in a darkened club, danced like broken homing missiles (although I started thinking they may have been on to something once the flood lights started lasering through my retinas).
GusGus sauntered on to the stage as the usual happy shambles of questionable fashion choices—their three singers being leaner, hairier and decisively more bondage-friendly this time around. Urður was imposing and glorious as always, and looked, in her see-through dress and garters, like she was there to accept the award for ‘queen of all fag hags’ (which I’d award her if it wasn’t for our recent Eurovision entry Hera Björk). Högni came on in a flowing overcoat and a mohawk stovepipe hat, midway through popping his shirt off to reveal a matching mesh shirt and bondage straps. Daníel swam around in a scarf like a drama major in a K-hole.
I was a little worried that Urður’s singing wouldn’t translate to the stage, as I’ve seen some recent live footage that wasn’t too promising. But aside from her mic level being set too low, she hit the notes and sang from her heart, gut and other organs. So this must have been down to poor quality of the YouTube footage I saw. And there’s no point in talking about Högni or Daníel Ágúst—they’re among the best pop singers we have in Iceland.
I do miss seeing the core of the band, the producers Biggi Veira and Stephan Stephensen hidden being a stack of old synths like in the old days, but an electronic band needs less equipment these days, and the leaner approach is par for the course.
I will say that there are only four bands in Iceland that have mastered the art of drama in popular music. Only four bands that have properly gotten to grips with the swells, the tension, the calmando and crescendo. They are Sigur Rós, HAM, Páll Óskar and GusGus. Each from a different genre, each with their own way of approaching it, but all know how to whip up a squall of heroic melodrama in the teenage heart.
GusGus are professionals at the top of their game. Simple as that. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have even the mildest appreciation for electronic music you should be able to appreciate the dynamics of their live performances.
On a side note, I thought of something while listening to ‘Deep Inside.’ Can I please put in an order for a thrash metal cover of this song? On the off chance that there are any metalheads reading this, would you pretty please make this happen? Stand in the way of my Slayertronica no longer. I need to hear this.

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