From Iceland — Grand Rokk - Thursday

Grand Rokk – Thursday

Published October 16, 2009

Grand Rokk has to be one the most press-friendly places these Airwaves.
When I arrived, I was greeted by bartender Gunni, who directed me to
the only chair in the house. It had been reserved for me. Conveniently
enough, it was situated next to the bar. This was looking good.
Nögl didn’t seem too happy as they hit the stage. Perhaps they
expected more than ten people in the room. They did not lack any
enthusiasm, though, and seemed very happy throughout their set. At one
point, the bass player stood up on the bass drum and played. The
drummer didn’t seem to mind, which I certainly found strange. Most
drummers I’ve played with would’ve killed me on the spot for trying
such a stunt.
Nögl’s singer is good, and I think the guitar players were playing
well. I don’t know, it was impossible to hear, because the drummer
(like so many of his Icelandic counterparts) seemed to be suffering
from acute fear of not being heard and pounded his kit mercilessly. The
music is American high school bubblegum pop rock a la Sum 41 and Blink
182. Unfortunately, it was sloppily played, the bass/drums were not
tight and the drummer’s love of open hi-hat and his ride cymbal grew
A few more people had arrived when Gordon Riots the stage, so
the sound had improved a bit. Unfortunately, the music did not. This
was rather boring metal that reminded me of Slipknot and Mudvayne, and
yes, I am aware that dropping these names is a very serious accusation
in the harsh world of heavy metal. I still have to do it. The songs
were boring, endless chug-chug, no cool riffs to be found. In fact,
there were no riffs at all. The singer was good and tried to spur the
audience into a frenzy, but with this back line it was doomed to fail.
The band is tight though and with better songs and more character I can
envision them becoming a cool live outfit in the future.
The bands this night were wonderfully diverse. After having listened to punk pop and metal it was time for Vicky
and their late 80s/early 90s indie pop-rock. At this time Grand Rokk
was nearly full and Vicky clearly had a lot of fans in the audience,
some of them apparently coming from far away exotic places like
Shrewsbury and Höllviken. The band has a charismatic singer, but her
style of singing is pretty one-dimensional. I had had enough of her
screeching by the time they finished. The guitars were great, had a
nice, rich and nostalgic sound. The bass player was much to passive for
my taste and sometimes hit the notes ahead of the bass drum, which is
simply not good enough. Go home and practice, girl. The drummer was
really keeping the band together but did the common mistake of hitting
too hard and doing too much.
Kudos to Gone Postal for being the only band that night who
didn’t speak English between songs. I can’t see the reason for bands
doing this? There are always more Icelanders than foreigners at shows,
even if it’s Iceland Airwaves. This is just silly, needless and
irritating. I don’t recall hearing the GP singer saying anything
between songs. He saved his voice for two things: Guttural growling and
high pitched screaming. And boy, he does this well. I wish he’d do more
of growling, that voice is demonic. If some asked me, ‘What is death
metal?’ I’d tell them go see Gone Postal play. But again, I have to hit
on a drummer. The guy is great, but sometimes I felt the double bass
drum was killing the guitar riffs. But that’s just me, I guess these
guys know what they’re doing.
Agent Fresco certainly looked like they knew what they were
doing. In spite of sound problems, they came off really calm, collected
and sure of themselves. They have every reason to be. It would be nice
to hear some funky grooves once in a while. The bass and drums are rock
solid, the off beats and robotic sync incredible but sometimes lacking
in…emotion? The crowd was happy enough. This band reeks too much of
Muse for me to be able to like them, though.
The place emptied when Agent Fresco finished. I could not help but
wonder if Hoffmann, (who should have played next) had a premonition of
that happening and therefore cancelling? The replacement was Morning After Youth, apparently playing their first regular gig. They looked horribly out of place with their melodic, ‘Simply Red-ish’ pop.

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