From Iceland — Grand Rokk - Saturday

Grand Rokk – Saturday

Published October 18, 2009

When I showed up at Grand rokk, I was dealing with some heavy repentance from the previous night. The final night of Airwaves was starting, and I was situated at Grand Rock, at that time the emptiest bar in the entire Northern hemisphere. I was just getting settled in and getting to know the bartender when Caterpillarmen started.
They delivered some heavily progged out rock in the style of Pink Floyd or King Crimson. I was a bit bummed by the fact that this awesome band had to start the show with so few people around, but I enjoyed it anyway. Although they’re fairly new, it was quite clear they have been spending long hours in a suburban garage. Their set was tighter than an obscenely tight object, and set in the semi-jam, semi-rehearsed manner that all acid rock should be served in. They really are one of the better new bands I have seen spring forth in a long time from the endless rows of garage rock outfits. The only slightly weird thing being the almost autistic story the keyboard player told while the drummer snuck into the bathroom to dress himself in a monkey suit. It all became a bit strange at that point. Otherwise, I say kudos to the flawless playing and especially to the drummer for pulling the show of dressed in an overall gorilla suit.
I used the time between bands to get comfortable and waited for the next band, Weapons. I had finally befriended the bartender when the band suddenly started. And I heard it was bad from the moment they struck their instruments. Weapons turned out to play a formulated kind of pop-rock that almost came off as a parody of itself. The overly average performance reeked of copied lyrics and egotistical stage presence. You heard teenage lyrical experimentation and saw every stage move used by teenage garage bands.
After the atrocious Weapons set I was hoping for some fresh vibes from Hello Elephant. What I got was a stale pop outfit that totally lacked practice and stage presence. I just couldn’t understand why such mediocre bands were playing, but it seemed I only had to get used to the fact because the next band sucked almost as much as they did. The Viking Giant Show.
TVGS is a project mainly driven by the singer of Icelandic rock legends Botnleðja, who apparently has recruited some strange pop-geezers to play his tunes with him. I felt a bit like I was watching my father trying to pass off as a rock and roller as I sat through their performance. They sounded a lot like they should have been playing at Saturday night hoe-down rather than a Saturday night rock concert. They were a bit lame to be frank but ended up taking an old Botnleðja song called Hausverkur, the only bright spot in an otherwise dull show.
I was starting to despair a bit when I looked at the schedule and found out Jan Mayen were up next. I wasn’t sure what to make of it since I hadn’t really seen them for a few years. Also, never having been their biggest fan, they didn’t seem to be the band that would turn this night around. But as the seasoned rockers of Jan Mayen took the stage it became very clear what was going on. It was a fucking bona fide miracle because for the first time the place started to fill up and their playing was awesome from the very first song onwards. Their hypnotic twin guitar weave got the crowd going and I started nodding my head for the first time that night. They delivered an awesome show that was both light hearted and harsh. It was an experience, and I know that I definitely won’t be missing their next show.  Also, I want to thank the great sound man at Grand Rokk who did an awesome job. I’ll be damned if he wasn’t an essential part in that show.
I was feeling a bit more up to the challenge after Jan Mayen’s show and up next was Faeroe Islands rocker Hogni and his band. They started off with some veteran playing but I couldn’t really put my finger on the performance. The singer evidently is the Faroese Lenny Kravitz, with the most wicked lamb chop side burns I have seen in a while. They played a kind of electric folk rock that was almost a bit schizophrenic at times. I didn’t really much care for that. So I relaxed, sat back at the bar and talked to my friend the bartender while they finished their set
As I relaxed in my comfy barstool, a troubadour took the stage. This was Michael O’ Connel, the man behind Culture Reject. He played some slow and nice troubadour songs that were able to ensnare the few people left at Grand Rokk, a bit like a street version of Jack Johnson. His set was warm and nice like a teddy bear’s embrace.
But as Who Knew were getting settled, came the most embarrassing happening of the evening. I had gone to the toilet to do my business as usual and was standing amidst the crowd in boisterous kind of way. Little did I know that I had actually forgotten to unbuckle my belt and the zipper of my pants was sitting in the bottom row… There weren’t that many people around me, so my shame was strikingly public. I hastily fixed my appearance and went from pale to tomato red in a matter of seconds. But this didn’t ruin my experience of Who Knew. They certainly played their hearts out and were the only other band that really got the crowd jumping that night. Their mix of kind of Modest Mouse rock and totally drunken party singing was just the right formula to end the night.
To me that would have been a most awesome final show but the sound man had to keep schedule and sent Who Knew from the stage after only four songs or so. This was to clear room for the oldies rockers of Coral. I couldn’t really like their show after that, they played well but never with their balls out, a very trained and boring musical show. So after that I ran into the night to join the final big night of Airwaves. A rather slow night at Grand Rokk that had some good peaks had taken a real toll on me, but I felt up to the challenge.

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