From Iceland — A Night Of Hip Hop And Its Bastards

A Night Of Hip Hop And Its Bastards

Published October 14, 2011

A Night Of Hip Hop And Its Bastards

What was to become one of the fest’s most consistent night (sub)genre-wise didn’t go down without some ups and downs.

There was surprisingly good turnout for opener Gísli Pálmi and although he doesn’t have lot of material or shows under his belt, people were into the guy. His almost down-tempo, bass heavy Gucci Mane’ish hip hop has great appeal in a live situation but sounds fairly limited and flat. Backing him up tonight was one Marlon Pollock. The guy is a wicked MC with a lot of experience but came off as unsure of his place within the Gísli Pálmi universe. An uneven but enjoyable set.

Musik Zoo was a whole other beast entirely and I’m not sure if it was the good kind. Loaded with heavily experienced scenesters of yore this particular Zoo is inhabited by ’90s indie rockers and mr MC Tiny of Quarashi fame as well. Mr. Tiny still got it. His rapping is tight, fast and crisp and Musik Zoo has brought out the singer in him, sharing the vocal duties with the much deeper timbered Arnar Júníusson who once trotted stages far and wide with the long dead Vínyll along with his drumming brother Guðlaugur Júníusson (yes they are brothers) who coincidentally provides the beats for Musik Zoo as well. So yeah. Heavy on notoriety the band pulled in quite a lot of people including Helgi motherfuckings Björns. There and then I thought they would steal the show and their set hadn’t even started. Then it started and although confident, their mish mashi songs didn’t win me over. Even though they mix genres together, such as hip hop and bluesy groove rock  it was hard to get excited. On paper it sounds fresh but tonight the only surprise was the goofy sounding keyboards that managed to sound out of place the entire time. The more upbeat the songs got, the more Gorillaz they sounded and it was kinda fun. In the interest of not coming off like a negative Nancy it must be mentioned that the two singers compliment each other brilliantly. Who would have thought?

A bathroom break was in order. Nothing to write home about other than for the fact that in plain view a bar hopping jock and his friends were snorting dope in plain sight, getting amped as a result. Welcome to Reykjavík, children.

Youthful R’N’B ala high school dances in Reykjavík was next on the menu, represented by the king of a scarcely populated R’N’B scene Friðrik Dór. The start of his set was embarrassing. When performing at a festival, do not “open” your show with a campy and arbitrary chit-chat to get the crowd going. Just start with a solid intro or a rocking song god dammit. By the time his wheels started spinning, which happened quite quickly mind you, the room was saturated with lovely ladies left and right and collage looking lads. And herein lies the problem. Friðrik Dór’s set was more suited for an ivy league frat party rather than Airwaves. He’s got his shit figured out musically though bringing to mind Chris Brown and Usher if you will, minus the dance moves of course. And the guy can work a crowd like a pro. No doubt. The kids in the front were into it – singing along heartily and what not but his new material sounded so removed from the old stuff that people love, and singing one of those songs in English put a damper on things, honestly. One of the new tracks he played is allegedly produced by Ólafur Arnalds and although the song was fine, its dramatic undertones messed up the singers mojo, taking him out of his element. I’ve concluded the cheesier the song the better he fares. Anyway. Seems like Friðrik Dór is on crossroads and going through some growing pains figuring out his next move. Nothing wrong with that.

Full disclosure: I was anticipating Forgotten Lores‘ set becoming the best of the night and boy oh boy did they deliver. It shows remarkable confidence and belief in one’s music to perform new and mostly unreleased material when relying on popular standards to please everyone and make sure no one goes home feeling neglected by the band they came to see is more often than not the route artists go for at fests like Airwaves. Forgotten Lores have balls aplenty, because they only performed new shit. Shit that reeked of glory and awesomeness let me tell ya. Never before have I seen a crowd this amped on songs they’ve never heard and that in turn lit up the band resulting in a unforgetable show. I’m gonna spare you the lofty description of what I was feeling and seeing. Lets just say that a complete ownage was going down and people were getting knocked off their feet and back up again. Tonight made me absolutely stoked on their next album. Pound for pound the best hip hop group in Iceland ever! Can I get a hell yeah?!

You can’t really go wrong with Blaz Roca. One can dislike some of his material – a fan can have beef with which songs he choses not to perform at any given moment but the man brings the ruckus, and the party respectively. Tonight was no exception. After a surprisingly underwhelming intro-hype jam that featured members of XXX Rottweiler  preparing the big guys appearance he did in fact, ehem, appear… Orange mask on and all. His first number didn’t actually start a fire but two songs deep the crowd was eating out of his hands and by this point the place was getting packed, my clothes sticky and sweaty and there were singalongs and guest appearances in droves. It didn’t really feel like a serious music festival, rather it looked, smelled and sounded like Blaz Roca’s own party. A very big one I might add. He’s the puppet master and his boys were fueled by the on-stage Havana Club Rum bar on the DJ desk. When he broke into Botninn Upp, a party standard, he invited a couple of ladies on stage and soon enough it was invaded by a intoxicated babes of varying hair colors. Festive, some might say.

One of the festivals’ most hyped bands was up next, and it showed. People were getting crammed in like sardines. Preceded with a DJ set by The Netherland’s own Dope D.O.D turn table jockey, the crowd was chanting the band’s name between his songs. I wondered if they were all fans or they just thought this was the way to act because of all the hype. No such jaded all fart contemplations mattered when the band finally emerged on stage. People lost their shit and as soon as the first horror hip hop mega dub step “note” hit the airwaves (yes I’m smart like that) Gaukur Á Stöng was literally rattling due to the heaviness and loud volume. It was getting damn hot in there. And it got hotter.

Four songs deep I started to get bored though and the gimmicky sounding and looking Dutch troupe was running out of tricks.For starters, the heavy reliance  on ridiculously heavy and simple dub step became tedious and overwhelming.  Shattering ear drums and burying the instrumental tracks in bass thunders doesn’t enhance the listening experience. Indeed it drowned out some of the songs. But again, jaded old man rants didn’t apply here because people were loving it. I wasn’t. Still the vibe was good and the night as a whole ran quite smoothly. Well done.




Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!