From Iceland — Batteríið - Saturday

Batteríið – Saturday

Published October 18, 2009

As the 1st act, Ljósvaki was always going to be up against it, especially with only a few people watching in attendance. But it also didn’t help when you have stage banter such as ”err… this is a song called Going Inside and it’s sort of about going inside of yourself, because you know a lot of external problems can be solved by going inside yourself” only to have that followed up with very soft, bland, electro lounge beats. As he’s a solo artist, he also was moving around a lot to play every instrument as well as singing; so all the stage presence was taken up with this, which did distract from the songs itself. He needs to perhaps hire another persona and turn Ljósvaki into a duo like all great electronic bands should be.
An example of such a duo is BB & Blake. Only, they’ve become a trio as they now have some bloke on guitar! You see delegation does work. Their sound is also similar with 70s style disco beats with a soul pop layer on top. The singer Vera looks wonderful and her singing is strong, but the half empty venue is not helping them out and in the end it’s all good, but not spectacular.
When they finish, the sound engineer looking after the monitors puts on earplugs and his headphones. “When Ghostigital come on, I’m going to need these,” he tells me. I soon see why. They are LOOOOOUD with a capital oww. They make an unholy racket of power electronics and extremely heavy bass synth. And they’re fronted by the most talented middle-aged man I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, screaming “TROUSERS!” fifty times during a song surely indicates the presence of some form of greatness, although as a lowly mortal I’m not supposed to get it. Near the speakers, a small woman cowers with her hands clasped tightly to her ears. Good luck with that…
XXX Rottweiler have a lot of fans. When they take to the stage, the place is now heaving and there seems to be rather a lot of female fans screaming at the front. Now, as a non-Icelander, reviewing Icelandic rap and hip hop puts me at a major disadvantage as I don’t really understand their lyrics at all, so I’m forced to comment on their rhythm and music instead. I can confirm that XXX Rottweiler have extremely good rhythmic flair, although the music is your bog standard US hip-hop beatitude. This all changes when they play a new song that moves away from American R&B and goes for a Euro Dance flavour a lá Modeselecktor. It is far and away the best track of their set. The crowd definitely agrees as they totally lose their shit.
Time for a paradigm shift as we move from electro noise to rawk! The Megaphonic Thrift sound nothing like their MySpace page, so when they play their US style indie rock with all the force of a dump truck it takes you completely by surprise. They don’t just play their songs, they smash them repeatedly with blunt force trauma and stamp on them mercilessly with feedback Sonics. I can see the numerous Sonic Youth references, although my good friend Ragnar also points to the Yo La Tengo influence as well. Anyway they were refreshing and made me feel all wibbly inside. The drummer looks fucking knackered though.
At this point I leave Batteríið and trudge silently over to JACOBSEN to cover the night’s events there.
Bob Cluness

By midnight, Batteríið was a seething mass of people, although not to suffocation point. More  just irritation-at-waiting-to-get-served-at-the-bar point. The complexly named FKNHNDSM DJs were laying down some slightly cheesy, female vocal-ey type tracks and people were milling, drinking themselves into oblivion and waiting for the next act to begin. Typical Saturday night action. Bloodgroup busted out on the stage with some of their usual electro madness, managing to slowly cajole the audience into a state of excitement – crowd surfing ensued and arms were raised in the air. Cranking. The audience was made up mostly of a certain kind of folk. To elaborate: neo-80s gear was abundant, and there was even one guy there with an actual, real Flock of Seagulls haircut. Seriously, straight from 1982. What a trooper. All in the name of fashion.
The gig started out strange, with the front row of the audience just kind of standing there (looking all ‘cool’) while Bloodgroup got into it. Strange. Why exactly would you bother to stand right in front of a band and just stare motionlessly at them? Particularly when the band is putting in a good deal of effort into their performance… Oh well, they nonetheless gave it all they had, and eventually wound up getting the kind of reception their brand of hard electro pop is worthy of. The beats were hard and the keytars were  used to rockin’ effect, with classics such as Sticky Situation being played alongside newer material.  The group is apparently known for their crazy live shows and their experience performing was evident, they provided a lot of energy and oompf, without which the gig would probably have fallen very flat.
Good for them.
The next group, Kakkmaddafakka, whipped things into shape…Well, even more into shape, living up to their reputation as party people and successfully getting everyone to jump around a lot, waving their hands in the air and whatnot. Musically, they provided the goods, with their eclectic collection of influences producing a sound that actually manages to be really original. No mean feat in this day and age of mass-produced shite. Their variety paid off for this Norwegian troupe and they were more than warmly received by their audience.
A highlight definitely has to be their cover of Paul Simons song You can call me Al, with many in the audience singing their lungs out, and the rest of the set let everyone get crazy on the dance floor (one of their aptly titled songs). Their range of instruments was pretty cool, with a cello, horn section and piano included in their ensemble and their pianist was really good, belting out old-school rock and roll style solos all over the place. All in all, they put on a stand up show and left the stage with the audience chanting their name.
Batteríið rapidly cleared out for the final act of the night, ATG DJs, and in the end there were about 6 people on the dancefloor, 5 of whom were a stronghold during the beginning of Rasmus’ set on Wednesday night. Respect to these guys, they know how to dance to music no one else really wants to dance to. ATG, meanwhile were dropping some dark dirty beats on a mostly empty house. There isn’t much that can be said about their performance, as they weren’t really performing. It wouldn’t be fair to say that it was just because they were DJing and that DJs aren’t really performers, because DJs can bring it like the best of them when they are in their element. However these guys seemed to be just playing their stuff, and this didn’t really add anything to the ambiance. Although at this point the ambiance consisted of a dirty floor and the odd person sipping their drink in the corner while the famous five did their thing in the middle of the dance floor. So yeah, even if they had been really getting loose over the turntables, it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
Word is, at the time it was impossible to get into NASA, where Trentemöller was playing, and probably lots of other places where cool people go to be seen were packed. In the end it was a bit much, all the dark tech-y beats and the empty dancefloor was depressing and flashbacks to previous washed out 3AM ghost town type scenarios were ensuing, so it was time to go. In fairness, ATG weren’t crap. The aforementioned dark, tech-y beats were really quite danceable, and it was possible to imagine a room full of people getting their stomp on to it. With the right atmosphere they could have probably rocked the place. Unfortunately the conditions were against them, and they played to a almost empty house.
Batteríið dealt an interesting hand on Saturday night, and with the exception of the last act, the bands were on form, delivering quality energetic performances, to a full house. Shame people didn’t stick around till the end, but with the amount of talent available, you’ve gotta put your best foot forward or you lose out. Dem’s da breaks.
Bergrún Anna Hallsteinsdóttir
Photo by Ægir Freyr Birgisson

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

Show Me More!