From Iceland — Apótekið – Wednesday

Apótekið – Wednesday

Published October 14, 2010

Photo by Morgan Levy

Why is it that as soon as people start to get all cocky about the weather and start going on about how long its been since it rained, the heavens open? Uhm. Hurling myself out of the rain and into the plush interior of Apótekið, I feel like I’ve just walked into a Wall Street bar circa 1991. Shudder. And so begins a night of electronic weirdcore.
Tonik are up first. These two guys peddle a kind of lounge-y schmoozy vibe, one playing the bass in an oh-so Miami Vice vest and stonewashed jeans ensemble and the other in hipster outfit of skinny jeans and side slicked hair. Hipster guy played a huge white keyboard. Even though the Tom Cruise guy was playing the bass, you couldn’t really pick it out from the backing beats. Hipster guy was playing along to a punchy beat from his Macbook. He seemed to be into it, and finished each plonk of the keys with a dramatic ‘I just got an electric shock’ flourish. The tracks were really long, which if this was an album I put on while feeding my goldfish on a Sunday would work fine. But live? Well the phrase ‘pulling teeth’ came to mind. I didn’t seem to be alone on this assessment either.
But Yoda Remote changed all this. In my mind, disco balls descended from the roof, lounge girls on roller-skates offered us hard worn clients dry martinis and everyone grew a perm. As they kicked off the first track, I had to rub my eyes to make sure that a fusion of AC Slater and Andrew Ridgeley from Wham had not just been reincarnated in front of me. Holy shit! For a bunch of kids that didn’t even exist in the eighties, these two eighteen-year olds brought some serious retro junk to this front. With their wild enthusiasm, their launch pads and vocorders (that thing that makes your voice go all computer-y) these kids pulled off such a eurotrash techno synth-fest, I was completely gob smacked that strippers on poles with dodgy perms didn’t descend from the ceilings. Or at least a couple of Borat look-alikes in mankinis. Couldn’t get any more eighties cheese for your money. Loved it.
Alas they finished their set, taking the Apótekið atmosphere with it. I was thinking whoever came up next had to really step it up to beat Yoda in the fun factor. Oh ho hoooo and so came Rafgashaus. OMG. It was so wrong it was brilliant. These guys are a four piece who have been together in their current form for about two weeks. I don’t know if it was the singer’s bad vocal abilities or the lack of practice, but somehow being wildly off key enhanced his appeal. He was joined on vocals by a bearded man in green BP overalls who barked and shamanised his way though the tracks using the most stunning array of props I have yet to see on the gig circuit. More on this in a minute. The Mac guy at the back used a mouse. The ultimate electro faux pas. This gave him more an air of standing at a desk checking his emails than being live on stage at Airwaves.
The music wasn’t that bad actually, but it was the personas of these guys that stole the show. So, check it out. Singer dude is bawling away, computer dude is checking his emails, keyboard dude wasn’t really visible actually, and what does BP dude do? He starts singing into a lamp. Then proceeds to covers his face with a drum cymbal and sing though the hole. THEN, he takes out a cucumber, unwraps it half way and holding it like a cock proceeds to bang it on the table in front of him to the beat. Well at least he used protection. The crowed ended up singing “I am picture man!” to the last track as they sung their hearts out from behind empty picture frames. After the gig I asked BP dude what was the deal with the cucumber. He told me he just saw it in the 7/11 when he was buying a bulb for the lamp before the gig.  Respect y’all.. the heroes of the night.
We had just manage to pull our jaws up off the floor, when Fu Kaisha rocked up to do his electro thing. Embarrassingly, I thought the first two tracks were actually the mixer DJ-ing in between the bands. My bad. Fu Kaisha as an artist was actually really tight. It seemed to take him a while to find his flow, but he really did produce some quality drum and bass beats and fresh mixes. But there wasn’t much performance wise. He was super absorbed between his two Macs and could have been in his bedroom for all the effort put in on the crowd engagement front.  But all credit to this guy, he’s intense about what he does, he’s really talented and he filled the floor. Fair enough!
Thizone was widely anticipated and pulled off a fairly satisfying set of duly weird beats and thumping dub electronics. Although there was a really heavy drone though all the tracks, which made me, feel a bit ill. I don’t know why really. Though the music was good, and he definitely earns praise for his mixes, it was bit of a dull performance, with little in the way of audience interaction and lots of knob twiddling. It made me miss Rafgashaus all the more.
But true to the ebb and flow of the electronic wave, enter more body shaking, head banging, arm raising drum and bass from acid house maven Futuregrapher. His Macbook sticker shows off his love of Phil Collins, so I was wondering what I was gonna get. He started us off with a sweaty set of pumping house, jumping and hopping about like a man possessed. When he wasn’t jumping on the table screaming at us all to go faster, he was playing a virtual theremin in his mind. He looked like a bearded shaman controlling us from on high up there.
By this stage the gig had melted down into an acid drum and bass trip complete with the obligatory manic shaven headed raver or two. It was cool. He was also joined on stage for a rap by the dude from PLX. We danced hard, so hard in fact that the smell of sweating cow from the mix of leather clad hipsters and couches became to make my stomach turn and I had to get some air. Phew! Aferwards, Mr Futuregrapher told me he was super delighted with the gig “I don’t want to just stand behind a computer and be pushing buttons all the time, I want to have fun too!” Aww.. cuddles for you!
Formerly known as Anonymous, Icelandic electro veterans PLX came on to loud applause. Their set started off with a deep electro bass sound that slowly climbed higher and higher, whipping the eager crowd into a full on party frenzy. The lead singer, who pulled off some funky rapping on a track or two, shook and writhed and pulsated with every beat he played. It was cute though, he took his rabbit mask off half way through and he suddenly got all shy for a few seconds before the music took him off again. His fellow band member (and sister) Tanya, who incidentally was wearing a marvellous multicoloured adult babygro thingy, had this amazing magic box that looked like a detonator switch. I don’t really know what it did but every time she pushed it I’m sure a sprinkling of party dust descended from above. Or maybe that was just the light reflecting in the kitschy chandeliers. Either way it made us all shake our groove a little bit harder.  Even the little American dude in front of me, who looked about 65 or 70, was grinding and crunking away. Deadly! The audience didn’t get their encore though. Next time.
As a side note, chatting to Tanya after the gig I found out that the giant babygro had in fact once belonged to Aphex Twin. But I didn’t have time to hear the full story as Ruxpin had just started. Tanya informed me he was legendary, so who was I to argue.
Cue Ruxpin, complete with bird type mask thing and headlamp. The Knife have a lot to answer for. Ruxpin rounded out the night with more thumping beats, although a bit more of a Prodigy-esque sound. He was sharp suited and booted, and more than capable of punching out crowd pleasing tunes to the by now full venue. He seemed happy with himself and shoulder swayed his way though his set, ending to cat calls and cheers for more.
And so, on a final Macbook count of ten, I shot off out into the night, and the rain, to catch the end of some other parties. Weirdcore, I salute you!

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