From Iceland — GOOOOOOAAAAL!


Published October 14, 2011


When Adda took the stage at Glaumbar there were only a handful of people in the crowd. “I love playing for a full house. I fucking love it. Thanks for coming,” Adda said from her seat.

It wasn’t apparent yet at this early hour in the evening, but playing for a full house at Glaumbar would actually have been pretty horrible. The island bar spans the length of what is unmistakably a sports bar, dividing the room into two narrow areas lined with tables more conducive to watching big flat screen TVs mounted above the bar than the small stage tucked away up front.

So fortunately for Adda and the rest of us, the bar was not packed and the drone of unwanted backup vocals, which featured over the evening, did not drown out her soft acoustic strumming and carefully crafted lyrics.

Adda was joined by her sister Sunna for the second half of the set and finally by Eva Björk for their last song, a lo-fi version of Eminem’s Drug Ballad. This unexpected finale about drug addiction was pretty badass.

While we’re on the topic of addiction, you might note that ten percent of all living males in Iceland over the age of 15 have been admitted for inpatient alcohol treatment. Wow.

Anyways…Adda was followed by another dose of soft acoustic tunes from Ylja. Last year they were the best friend duo that seemingly shared ESP powers at Risið. This year they were a four-piece band, now joined by a bassist and a cellist.

Their folksy blues struck a chord with the audience, though the growing audience was already growing too loud. Perhaps to no fault of its own for Glaumbar is really more apt for watching a football game than anything else.

At some point Ylja invited the audience to sing along to Dúmdaralara, a song about love and adventure expressed through their catchy made-up language. The nearby audience didn’t sing, but they clapped in rhythm, sort of.

After Ylja finished, I was left wondering where I might find that red sand beach in the Westfjords.

Third up, were Ourlives—not be confused with Other Lives from Oklahoma, who are also playing at Airwaves, or with Dikta, though their first song Out of Touch sounded very much like the latter’s hit From Now On.

If you’re not familiar with Ourlives and you like Dikta, you will love Ourlives. I’d say they’re coming to an Icelandair playlist near you (if they’re not already there).

As Ourlives wrapped up, I finally lost the view I had from the comfort of my front row seat at the bar. Looking around me as Valdimar set up, there was STILL no sign of Julian Assange or the dance party that allegedly goes down at this ‘versatile’ bar. But Glaumbar was filling for the indie pop group nominated as one of Iceland’s brightest hopes at the Icelandic Music Awards this year.

The small stage seemed rather cosy for the nine-piece band, including a prominent brass section. Still, there were no accidents involving trombones and Valdimar’s powerful voice filled the venue per usual.

They treated us to some new material, which they debuted at Airwaves the previous night, and then finished up with Yfirgefinn. By this time the ground was shaking, they were sweaty and spit was flying from Valdimar’s trombone. They got a steady call for “Meira!”, but that would probably have been against Airwaves law.

Following crowd pleasers Valdimar, Lay Low took the stage. You could tell that Lay Low were enjoying themselves, and that’s always nice to see.

Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, AKA Lay Low sings in both English and Icelandic and has made quite the splash internationally. From her new album, they played an Icelandic song that was notably more instrumental.

When Lay Low signed off she thanked everyone for coming and said she’d see us around town, and it’s true! You will probably see her around in this town.

My only complaint is that Lay Low couldn’t be heard very well over the crowd. Perhaps I’ve harped on about this too much, but I’m going to say it one more time. It was the same story when singer songwriter Snorri Helgason played; Glaumbar just did not lend itself well to these shows.

Donning a plaid shirt, corduroy pants and suspenders, Snorri was the last to take the stage, and with him were his friends, who also happen to be very talented musicians. They should have come on earlier in the evening though.

A very non-scientific poll suggests that people were stoked with the performances. And not only that, but a couple of girls told me that Glaumbar serves beer to students for 290 ISK, which is pretty awesome. So while Glaumbar wasn’t really cutting it this evening, it may very well be the place to get rowdy for the next handball game. And so ends this lay-reviewer’s account.

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