From Iceland — You: Why are you wearing these dorky running shoes at Airwaves, man? Me: Because my feet hurt from watching all your shitty bands.

You: Why are you wearing these dorky running shoes at Airwaves, man? Me: Because my feet hurt from watching all your shitty bands.

Published October 18, 2009

I was going to be the human iPod-shuffle last night, going from venue to venue regardless of if it was an official show or an off-venue. But then a New Jersey native who currently lives in New York wound up crashing on my couch for the weekend, and he didn’t have the precious Airwaves bracelet. So to Dillon we went. Weapons were playing. I had come for Sudden Weather Change, but after talking to a couple of confused members of the audience it became apparent that the schedule was confused as well. In other words, it was fucked up. Weapons did alright with their stripped down and up-beat indie rock that harkens back to 90’s britpop, but without the drugginess and then some 90s US emo in parts, which owes much to the singers’ voice, that is high in pitch but warm and hits enough right notes. I like the dude’s voice, but the music needs to become a bit more eventful and forthright for me to take real notice. Their performance was forced and they seemed uncomfortable. As of now Weapons is better enjoyed on my iPod than live.
A friend of mine told me Sudden Weather Buttlords would not be playing at all, which was a disappointment. But at this point the tiny Dillon was too packed for me to go anywhere else, so I opted to wait for Mammút’s set, because I really like their music, and I was also talking about hockey to my friend. Which is a rare occurrence in Iceland ‘cuz nobody here gives a damn about hockey.
Mammút have grown a lot as a live band. It was obvious that here was a band that knew what they were dong and quite conscious of the fact that all these people were there to see them. And it showed, the band was relaxed and natural and obviously enjoying themselves. Now, as much as I enjoy their last album, something is missing from their live set. My first complaint is how some of the songs unfortunately arranged endings and it hurts the live experience a little bit. Another thing I’d like to request is Alexandra (guitar) to sing more and sing harder at shows. I want to hear your voice properly, damn it. Plus, it will add the vocal harmonies and arrangements found on the album, to the live show.
The atmosphere was really nice and inviting during their set and the band seemed happy and the crowd too.
I was going to catch Cancer Bats set, but like I said, the Dillon program was messed up by now and due to the packed-in-ness I didn’t want to abandon my fort as well as the fact Reykjavik! were setting up real fast, I decided to let the Bats fly without me. But, Ægir Freyr Birgisson, who happens to shoot photos for Grapevine, was at Sódóma to witness the Toronto headbangers and this is what he had to say about them:
Cancer Bats didn’t catch me. They were full of energy, enjoyed themselves on stage and the crowd loved them, but I wasn’t amused. The last 10-15 minutes were just a big yawning competition between me and myself, maybe it was just the Airwaves atmosphere that killed it for me.
Judging by the way Ægir writes, he’s on acid. Clearly.
So, I wrote about Reykjavík!’s performance last night, and it was a very positive review. But I don’t want to blow too much smoke up their ass, so Matt Lewkowicz wrote about this performance instead. He managed to scribble down the following:
I’m visiting Iceland from Brooklyn, where everyone has a band. Upon arriving in Reykjavík, I realised that this just isn’t true. Here, everyone has a band. And everyone has a cousin. And everyone’s cousin has a band. I learned this in the urinal of Dillon, where I’ve now seen six bands since arriving here two days ago. I asked a guy pissing next to me “You know this band, man?” and he replied, “Yeah, the guitarist is my cousin.”
I’m lucky enough to be staying with Birkir Viðarsson, the scene-genie who gave me privileged access to the musical bottle of Reykjavik. He lent me a bike and took me down to Laugavegur and my ass got really wet. Birkir also has a band. And a cousin in a band. An hour later I was standing under a hail of his cousin Bóas’ spittle, watching him hand the mic down to Birkir so he could scream along to their second number. The lyrics were, as far as I could tell, RRRRAAAAAAAHHHHHWHWWWWWW!, repeated on the 1 for 4 bars. Birkir nailed it.
This was Reykjavík! In college, a writing professor taught me to never use an exclamation point unless I really, really meant it. Reykjavik! really, really mean it. While they set up and turned up every mic till it went into the red, there was much shouting and laughing. Someone shrieked “Too much foreplay!” which further confirmed the inkling I had that we were all about to get fucked. Hard.
Minutes later, their singer was jumping off the railing with a thud, taking a circuitous path through the crowd to end up next to the pudgy, drunk and happy guitarist Haukur, who was borrowing a guitar from the previous band Mammút. The vocalist moved on to test the fan for its ability to carry his weight. If I were in Mammút I would never lend a guitar to Reykjavik! They are as abusive as they are loud, as reckless as their witless audience, as damaging as a wildebeest stampede, and no thing or person could escape from their wrath last night.
They treated the stage as a guideline, a home base to return to after seeing how far the mic cables could stretch into their bombed and wobbling crowd. Sure, I was able to identify a few key riffs within the thick mess of sound, but their strength is certainly not in their mastery of melody. Three guys created a flurry of tightly locked drum, guitar and bass jabs which gave guitarist Haukur and singer Bóas the freedom to throw out the rules of tonal harmony and do what any man might do with a stomach full of beer and a soul of black calcified rock: scream. They know the PA will distort and disguise the fact that they don’t sing actual notes. Reykjavik!  is like the friend at a party that gets you funneling beers when you’d intended to merely have a few. Being in the room with them meant you had to headbang or get the fuck out. I did the former until even the venue had had enough; Reykjavik!,  a band as vehemently dedicated to the party as the city they’re named after, had to move on and get the fuck out.
Thank you, Matt! After Reykjavik! set, we hung out for a bit and then I went to Sódóma to catch the infamous Klink. I missed a couple of songs, but by the time I got there a bunch of people were there and a good number of them were headbanging. I like that. Fortunately they didn’t just rely on old material but played some new songs that would have been great if the sound hadn’t been so echo-y and reverb-y. It was annoying and the sound level was cranked up way to high so it was almost impossible to decipher the new material. Only when they played old stuff, did I “hear” the music, because I already have those old numbers stored in my memory bank… you know… In my brainhouse.
Worthy of mentioning was Krummi’s (of Mínus) appearance on stage, hazy as a motherfucker while furnishing Klink with venomous screams to back up Guðni’s hellish throat mastery. Add to that Krummi’s prince of darkness-esque between ceremonies, I was having a ball. Golden. The band was in fine form and delivered the goods better then I’ve seen them do it in years. I moshed and stagedived and had a gay ol’ time stepping on people. My only complaint is not hearing the new stuff even as it was being played. Oh well.
By this point the city was hideously drunk and disgusting: barfing babes with running mascara, sex-prowling bro’s in heat, foaming at the mouth and screaming “rooockkkk!!! I’m s druuuunk duuuuuude!!! Get out of my way man!”. Naturally, it signalled the end for me. At home, a fridge full of sandwich material and a Kaki King CD awaited me. Cosy.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!