From Iceland — Grand Rokk - Wednesday

Grand Rokk – Wednesday

Published October 15, 2009

Yes. Clarinet. Single most awesome instrument of the type you blow through. I was impressed by the clarinet. How it played with the melody; the build up, the construction how it took melodies and changed into leads that changed into solos. Beautiful and well done. The band and their music as a whole? Yeah… but there‘s only so much of joyful-big, wall-of-sound- happy you can take. Not that they weren‘t sincere, Mikado are obviously into what they’re doing. All of them. Their gleeful experimentation just reached a point of obnoxiousness that rendered them amicable, yet annoying in the end. Happiness is a nice and generally a good thing to portray with your music. Until you get all dramatic about it.
Cosmic Call come from a similar alley. Big walls of sound and sonic antics. I enjoyed them, until they got all monotonous and tiresome.
I rose in my seat when Pascal Pinon started their set. Their music and whole demeanour just makes sense. A bit of sweetness and teen angst mixed with childlike innocence. We’ve heard this kind of music before. There are many, many bands within the ‘Icelandic Cute’ genre; all tattooed, drug-a-licious twenty-somethings, trying their best to be adorable through a faint memory of elementary ethos. But these ninth-graders seem the only ones within the scene that make honest music, and age appropriate. At a certain point I started wondering why the sound guy didn’t pump up their volume a notch, cause the audience where getting chatty to the point of overpowering the girls. It wasn’t until I had peeked at his mixer board – and seen all the channels in MAX, that I realized that the band was being a victim of the members’ own timid, teen-ridden cutosity.
Útidúr is a big band, both in sound and number. A violin section, a brass player and an upright bass on top of a regular post rock build-up can’t go wrong. They look good. It’s not just their music and their big sound wall. It’s their charisma as a whole.
The singer duo, a mother-in-law friendly guy and a blond girl – not hating the spotlight – simply add a glow to the whole visage of the band. The music itself is, all in all, well composed but I somehow get the feeling they could take some of their compositional decisions further. Like they’re not using their potentials to the fullest. Even if this band won’t make it far, as too often is the case with good bands full of talented people, I foresee a bright musical future for most of its members.
I think the demand for ‘something new’ is overrated, unnecessarily obligatory. But there are so many bands doing exactly the same kind of emo-rock as Sing For Me Sandra – both in Iceland and abroad – and doing it a lot better. What I could do now is namedrop all those bands, but it would be unfair and perhaps a little cruel. I can’t say they sucked, they’re actually pretty good. Not great. If I’d use the Grapevine approved grading system I’d give them a +/- with emphasis on the /- .
This was a well-organized night. Every band started at the right time and since SFMS didn’t use up their whole slot, I managed a run across the street to Bar 11, where I got drawn in by Úlfur of Swords of Chaos’ cataclysmic screams. I stayed for a couple of tunes worth of some of the best technical-HC punk-madness-drive ever, before I ran across the street again just in time for Nolo.
Now, I’m a sucker for experimentation, especially in sound. It’s always refreshing to see that young men have been fiddling with their effect boxes but it gets boring and a bit annoying when you realize they’ve been putting emphasis on sound at the cost of songwriting. They’re talented though. I‘m confident that they’ll come up with something good when they’ve nailed their sound. But since we’re living in the now I was basically just sitting through their set to get to ‘Battle of the Bands 2009’ winners Bróðir Svartúlfs.
A short clip from TV and some recommendations from people whose opinions I trust had left me anticipating something like rhyme mixed with funk. And that’s exactly what they delivered. If the best hip-hop samples were aspiring to be alive, this is how they would sound like. All that in perfect harmony with a talented MC, who has all those quick rhyming dramatic stories to tell, made Bróðir Svartúlfs easily the highlight of my night. They somehow manage to do the hip-hop metal-esque funk thing, with out being all nü-metal.

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