From Iceland — Night Of Many Flavours

Night Of Many Flavours

Published October 16, 2011

Night Of Many Flavours

Glaumbar is definitely one of the Airwaves more cosy venues. It is an upstairs bar with the atmosphere of a ships hull, dressed up with a disco ball and other finery to attract a bit of a skinka crowd during non Airwaves times. OK, so that doesn’t sound at all cosy, but actually it is, somehow. Maybe it’s the smaller size of it or something. It’s not really set up for big crowds, with the stage being a mere four or so metres from the bar, which takes pride of place as a sprawling island in the middle of the room. Anyway, the result is a living room vibe, which, fortuitously is quite fitting for the first act of the night, Pascal Pinon.

This is a band which was thrust upon the music scene a few years ago, a group of kids who the Icelandic media have been describing as ‘dark’, among other things, though I would really only call them ‘dark’ if they are a freaky premonition of a future generation where feelings have become outdated and facial expressions are a scarce commodity. However, this style is their ‘thing’, and all part of the colourful whole of the Icelandic music scene, so whatever.

There is an apparently big crowd, though this might just be an illusion caused by the tiny size of the space, so unless you stand right at the front of the crowd, it’s not possible to actually see the band. It doesn’t really matter though, as with their notoriously apathetic performance style, this isn’t really a problem. The girls plunk away on their instruments and play their usual enchantingly melodic, vapid stuff.

There are a lotta lovers and probably equally as many haters of this band, though personally I find it quite difficult to muster up love, hate, or any strong feelings for that matter, for something so self consciously subdued, almost to the point of being insipid. Their performance at Glaumbar doesn’t do anything to change things in this respect. It can be said that their music is not unpleasant, and those present seemed to find them agreeable, but in the end there is nothing much to rave about.

Things change gear a bit when Vicky takes to the stage, with the place filling out a bit more, people gathered around the bar, still chatting while the music cranks up a notch in energy. Seemingly people aren’t concentrating that much on the band though, as when the lead singer asks if everyone is amped, they reply is somewhat half-hearted. She laughs sheepishly. Occupational hazard. They have a lively sound (though following Pascal Pinon most things sound lively), chunky beats and even a violin, which adds ten cool points and a gold star to them, though only because they use it well. Somehow they remind me of a whittled down Fleetwood Mac, though without the pace (or fame and fortune or presumably troubles of those guys). It might be something to do with the vocalist, as her voice is quite Stevie Nicks-ish, strong and  plain, and she holds the music together well with it. Despite the crowd not responding at all to their attempts at interaction, they are well received and eventually people settle in to enjoy what turns out to be a pleasant, if rather straightforward show. Their set is surprisingly quick and all at once they are done and leaving the stage, making way for Emmsjé Gauti, who is up next, breaking away from all these female vocals for a bit of good old hip hop.

The gap between the two sets is pretty long, so I step out to check out Gaukur á Stöng, and Amsterdam – both next door – and all seems to be rocking in these places. When I return, Gauti is starting and the bar has emptied out, though presumably not as a reflection of him. ‘He is this guy that all the girls want to do stuff with’ I hear a girl sitting next to me tell her friend, a visitor from overseas. Okey dokey. Good for him, I guess.

Undeterred by the lack of a crowd (though there are many people there, they are more or less socialising and not focused on the music), he launches into his set. He’s alright. Being a fan of the more complex rhymes and lyrics sometimes offered up by hip hop, I am not particularly excited by his run of the mill girls, etc etc. offerings. All a bit on the repetitive side and not really doing anything new.

His sound is therefore, obviously not record breaking-ly original, though he doesn’t piss me off by being stereotypically derogatory and grandiose, so it’s OK for the one gig.  Probably I wouldn’t want more. There are eventually a whole crowd of people who hit the dance floor, though, amusingly, it actually all started with one off her face lady, all leather skirt, peroxide and fake tan, doing the robot for her extensively tattooed boyfriend. Interesting.

Gauti gets a few friends  up on stage too, and things do admittedly get smidgen more complex, lyrically speaking. Though only a smidgen, and not for that many songs actually. In terms of performance, throwing their arms about and kind of bending over in passionate fits of rap induced ecstasy is about as good as it gets. The whole thing is pretty nyeh, and I am not too sure exactly what ‘stuff’ it is all these girls want to do with him. Presumably discuss the place of rap music in the hallowed halls of musical history. Or maybe play chess. Yeah, that’s definitely it.

My evening at Glaumbar is actually not bad, though not really amazing either. I don’t leave with the feeling of having had nails driven into my brain, so I am happy. There isn’t a crazy festival feel and I am getting a ‘yeah, this is what it’s all about’ feel. After Gauti is done with his thing, I move on for the night and Angela Rawlings comes to take over for the rest of what Glaumbar has to offer us on Saturday night.

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