From Iceland — When Shows Go Off The Air

When Shows Go Off The Air

Published October 15, 2011

When Shows Go Off The Air

Gus Gus at KEX Hostel

Gus Gus played an economical and fist-pumping set of monster hits to a full house of eager listeners at KEX Wednesday. Their music is hugely addictive and no matter how long they play you are always desperate for more. And when you get more it still isn’t enough. I know that less is supposed to be more, but chocolate cake is chocolate cake and I just want to stuff my face with Gus Gus. They utilize both space and long, clear notes to elevate the driving force of their music:  an irresistible beat. Restraint, focused emotion and a huge reserve of power make for a tight-ass listen. All the funky people bang you head on the one!


Agent Fresco at Nordic House

It is 150 degrees in Arnor’s armpit, the Nordic House is packed, and the music will not let him stop moving. Arnor Dan Arnarsson is a kaleidescope whose ever-changing colors dance around the room and fascinate me endlessly. So many things about this band are perfect (is it bad that I want to marry Þórarinn Guðnason’s pale, tea-pouring hands?), but completely human at the same time. Musical intelligence and emotional complexity are what set Agent Fresco apart; the arrangements really are something to behold.  This show was unplugged, so violins and cellos replaced electric guitars revealing a poetic vulnerability to some of the rock tunes. They closed with “Eyes of a Cloud Catcher”, a song about grace, sorrow, and ascension: “Try to leap, you should, try to reach into highest air.’  Everybody cried and everybody was grateful.  I can’t wait to see Arnor sweat through his gray t-shirt again.


Guðrið Hansdóttir at Kaffibarinn

First of all, Faroese kicks ass. Guðrið Hansdóttir is a very seriously talented songwriter, singer and guitar player with some very seriously interesting shit to say: “They say the fog will make the pastures grow.” She is a soulful story-teller whose gift is transporting the listener to places which seem both familiar and foreign. Her vocal range is nothing short of astounding, exuding the ethereal beauty of singers like Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris. By the end of her set every heart in the room was beating in time with hers. Thank you, Faroe Islands, for sharing Guðrið Hansdóttir with us – do we really have to give her back?


By Jessie Ziebart

Photo: GusGus at Kex by Hörður Sveinsson

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