From Iceland — Iðnó - Thursday

Iðnó – Thursday

Published October 16, 2009

At Iðnó, the festival’s second night started, proceeded and ended at a very relaxed pace. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, although those looking for the place to cut loose on the dance floor would have been left a bit disappointed. But if it was good music in a chilled-out, friendly atmosphere you were after then Iðnó was probably the place for you.
Lára Rúnars kicked the night off at a decent pace, she was likely the most upbeat musician to play the venue that night, and even though the audience was fairly scattered, and no one was really dancing, everyone appeared to enjoy her brand of singer/songwriter pop. She put her back into her performance, was energetic and brought an added vibrancy to the music when she was playing it live that might be lacking if you were to listen to her at home. Her voice is well suited to her style of light poppy-with-a-twist kind of music, but she would maybe be stretched to do anything deeper than that.
On the whole she got the night started well, but it seemed a shame that her energy was wasted on a mostly empty room, because it could have been that if she had played later she would have got the dance floor action she really deserved.
Following Lára Rúnars were Our Lives, a four piece indie pop band who have been on the scene in Reykjavík for a while now, playing gigs, building a profile, and generally becoming what they are today. They played well and were appreciated by the completely motionless crowd. Really people, not even a head-nod? Oh well, at least they were applauded for their efforts, although it seemed like their soaring vocals and intense melodies deserved more than a bit of a clap at the end. But whatever.
Their sound is nice, but kind of familiar, and if you look closely, their myriad of influences becomes clear; Coldplay/Muse/The Shins and so on.  Their collective experience gained over the last few years was well proven, and their show lived up to its promise to be ‘powerful,’ although it somehow managed to achieve this without being anything close to what you could call ‘high energy’… or any type of ‘energy’ for that matter. It would seem that the music stands for itself with these guys, and there is no need for tomfoolery or crowd pleasing antics, which is kinda cool actually. Keeping it real. So they set the leisurely pace for rest of the evening, but still managed to make an impression and drew a fairly decent sized crowd of static non-movers.
Next came Tenderfoot, who maintained the mellow pace with their American country/folk style music. The crowd was pretty sizable and remained in its state of motionlessness, watching dead-pan as Kalli, the lead singer poured his heart out on the stage. As with Our Lives they received warm applause and all, but it was difficult to fathom the feeling of the audience aside from at the end of the songs.
The music was pretty simple, and while the sound was not particularly current, the band had a warm, old timey vibe that lent a depth to their sound, with their acoustic guitars and double bass. They played a good if uneventful set, and have an unpretentious onstage presence, down to earth and free of theatrics.
This stood in contrast to Dísa, who put on a whole different breed of show, without actually changing the pace of things. Dressed in what appeared to be Bo Peep’s mourning clothes and stringing up her mics with fairy lights, she set up a somewhat more avant-garde atmosphere than the previous shows, who had all kept it pretty standard, what with their guitars and jeans and whatnot.
She entertained the crowd with her sometimes slightly OTT cutesiness and witchy-woo hand gestures, inviting the audience to join her in a song in which they were given the dubious honor of making train noises to accompany her. Ummm… Thanks.
Despite this whole little girly act, she used her voice to really good effect. She was on stage with a loop station and effect board and did some interesting things, both with the technology and with her own voice, which has an impressive range, belying her initial ‘I´m just a little bit lost’ act. She was a crowd pleaser too, managing to entice some swaying out of at least a few among the previously immovable crowd, so big ups to her for that. Her gig was interesting to say the least, and despite having a slightly annoying way of behaving all cutie-pie and experimental and arty at the same time (which sometimes came across as trying a bit too hard), her live show delivered some intangible appeal that is probably lost on her album.
The relaxed nature of Dísa’s set made way nicely for Nina Kinert, an alternative folkster from Sweden who played a really well received set, thoughtfully forgoing banter in favour of music, due to the short amount of stagetime available. She played a good set with her band and, despite a few sound and lighting issues, gave a strong performance. She switched between piano and guitar, and a combination of strong song writing, a good voice and a tight backing band meant that her show was one of the night’s standouts. The spirit of the 60s is apparent in her voice, and while comparisons have been made between her and American singer Emmylou Harris, there are times when there is almost an element of Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell in her often ethereal voice. The crowd was appreciative and the tentative swaying started by Dísa’s set continued until the end. Nice.
Nina Kinert was followed by Hogni, a Faroese singer, strongly influenced by the rockier elements of Ben Harper and Lenny Kravitz. Hogni cranked things up a notch and played probably the fastest music since Lára. He definitely has power and knows how to use it, but it seems he wasn’t the order of the day, and the crowd was pretty transient throughout his set, with people coming and going but most not staying for the whole time. However, those who were there did rock out a little, and it was hard not to, with his own enthusiasm for performing fueling the fire of those who could muster up a rockin’ head-nod and shoe tap. His sound is a bit old-school which is cool, and he isn’t trying to do anything fancy or different with it, just puts it out there for you to do what you want with. He seemed to be in the wrong place though, amongst all the songstresses and the like and could have possibly benefited from playing alongside similar sounding bands, rather than being stuck between two artists with music which was so different from his.
Eliza Newman ended the night on a poppy note, entertaining what was left of the scattered audience with her original, ukulele-accompanied tunes. She obviously had some fans in the audience judging by the cheers and fresh from a summer success in her song ‘Ukulele Song for You,’ which topped the local charts in July, this isn’t surprising. She has had a long career in the Icelandic music industry, having played music from across the board and knows her stuff, although this poppy wave she now rides is perhaps a little empty and could be beefed up with more substance. Those who were left appeared to enjoy her set though, and for those who enjoy sugary music she ended the night on a positive note.
Iðnó delivered an interesting smorgasbord of artists on Thursday night, artists that all played music of the same ilk. Still, each band brought something different to the stage. It was certainly not party central, and could actually have benefited from some giant cushions on the floor or something. For the lazy crowd to lie down and rest.
Also, a lot of the music played would have been best enjoyed from a seated position, perhaps even a recumbent pose, rather than standing dumbly facing the stage, looking like a goldfish in a bowl. The ambiance was nice and friendly, and each artist represented well for the Airwaves family. Hurrah.

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