From Iceland — Iðnó – Saturday

Iðnó – Saturday

Published October 18, 2009

I’ve never heard of Moses Hightower before tonight. Very good musicians, for sure, the band featuring a saxophone and a trombone. This sounds like a scene from an old film, where the happy young couple goes out on the town to dance. Very gentle and danceable music. This band features some of the bigger musical names of Iceland, such as Samúel J Samúelsson of Jagúar and Bryndís (Dísa) Jakobsdóttir. There are a total of eight people on stage, that’s kind of a lot of people I think. You could make at least two bands out of that many people. Moses Hightower is a very pro band, and very suiting for the elegant class of Iðnó. The sound here tonight is good, too.
Their lyrics are good, interesting at least.  A personal favourite of the night being Upp til að anda. I’m not very sure what to make of these super-soft saxophone bits though, that we face towards the end of the set. Sounds like background music for a love scene from some dull movie, Moving on, they bring out some funk, that took a surprisingly long time, what with Samúel and his tendency to funk things up. They’ve reached a thick, large tone. I especially like the more powered up bit of their last song.
After a varied, interesting set from Moses Hightower, this next band is definitely more my thing. The five-piece, pretty-boy band from Germany throws moderate post rock into their pop rock. Playing “normal” music, Abby manage to catch my attention. I’m actually digging this. I like their singer. He’s a lot of fun. Good, creative melodies. This band is creating a sound I can’t really trace back to its origin. I wonder now if they have some kind of magical guitar, at least the guitarist looks like he’s up to some shady business. Though, thinking this more thoroughly it’s probably the keyboard master who’s responsible for this wreckage.
Their song We Don’t Worry is incredibly summer-happiness provoking. Which can only be counted as a good thing, especially while facing a cold rainy autumn night like this one. This would probably make for an excellent road trip song. They are comfortably free of the hipster element that I was afraid was going to be in abundance tonight. Refreshingly European, as opposed to American. Oh there! I spotted the magic music machine! The keyboard player is more than meets the eye, and at a closer observation it turns out he’s got objects of an unknown musical source packed all around him. Literally.
There seem to be a small understanding you guys. You are not, I repeat NOT Explosions in the Sky. Now let me start with the good things about For a Minor Reflection. They are fine musicians. This they have proved repeatedly, by winning over the majority of the population in Iceland (and gaining a fair international fan base as well). They’ve been in the spotlight a lot, going on tour with Sigur rós and all. They do put on quite a show. Black and white visuals, cool spooky lights lot of smoke and they are really going at it. BUT. I don’t get it. Their music is only so-so. Their songwriting is terribly unoriginal, laughably predictable and, seriously – very – unfresh, in times of serious post-rock abundance. How they came to stand out from the rest of the thousands of bands that rip off the same folks as these guys, I don’t know. Oh, and the house is full. The crowd loves For a Minor Reflection.
Now, I’m pretty excited about seeing Ólafur Arnalds play, as he is conquering the world and all, and the last time I remember seeing him play is with the super kvlt and underground Helgi í Morðingjunum – a local punk band. Striking a rather different note tonight with his string quartet. The room is packed at this point. Turns out, the majority is foreigners. I’m not really buying this thing for the first song, it sounds kind of like a space filler for a dramatic movie, but moving on to song number two I bite on. Offering a good mixture of classic and electro, building up excellent drama, his song Fork gave me goose bumps. The first of the night. Now Óli talks about a music video an Argentinean fan made him, without his knowledge, and how it’s now being featured in some of the coolest art museums in America. I don’t know if I liked how that sounded. The song (Ljósið) is cool though. Very minimalist and cute. I’ve decided that I like Ólafur Arnalds’ music. Will look into where I can get his CD.
I didn’t really know what to expect from this act, but it sure wasn’t this. As I enter the room some bluesy pop-esque, kinda…. Nick Cave-ish tune greets me. And I’m convinced I missed Egill Sæbjörnsson, and this is the next band playing. The reason? This band doesn’t look or sound Icelandic. This is not the fact though, making this all the more exciting. His next song is more upbeat, still very exciting and challenging. Now I cannot make out this guy’s lyrics, but he’s a good singer, at least. This strange six-piece is having fun. They look confident. And the have every reason to be. Front man Egill is a fun character as well. Fun to watch. I don’t recognize any of the band members, which I find fairly odd, seeing as Iceland’s music scene is tiny. But it’s hard to tell. I’m very short sighted.
The New Wine get on stage before a half full room of people, starting with a familiar disco–pop tune. As a result people start breaking out in dance all over the floor, making these young Norsemen feel right at home. A fresh breeze of funk is presented to this already beautifully up-beat cocktail that is the New Wine’s music. They sound a little Brit-esque. The singer reminds me of bands like the Cure. Let me see those legs dance girl! This is Awesome! They are so dorky that they end up being super cool. Same goes for their music. I’ve decided to vouch for Norway tonight.
The Postelles face a crowd only half as big as the band before. They play fun old school dance music in a kind of a new suit thought. It’s not one thing about them; it’s everything about them that has an “old” feel to it. The melodies, the lyrics the solos, the song structures: It’s all pretty old. They do a cover of the Ramones, which is very fun. I don’t hate it. I find myself moving in ways that could be mistaken for dancing. An, Oh behold! The entrance of the token drunk chick. This is beyond. Dragging down literally half the dancefloor as she falls around for a minute or two before being escorted out. Hmm. Moving on. The Postelles have great stage presence; they are confident and cool as ice. The singer is really fucking good! And he’s such a cutie as well, it’s hard to fight the urge to go up to him and give him a hug. Or tickle him. Postelles are a good way to end a good evening. Great band. Would listen again.
Photos by Ingvar Ragnarsson

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