From Iceland — Risið - Thursday

Risið – Thursday

Published October 15, 2010

Photo by Páll Hilmarsson

Like a relaxing alternative programme Risið had a line-up that consisted of laid back singer songwriters and folk-pop bands this evening. How fitting that people could sit at tables and listen to the concerts while having a nice glass of wine. Though there were certain moments where you would want to leave your table and stand up, dancing and cheering.
The first band were Vigri, who combined elements of traditional folk with rock and thereby created a quite captivating movie-soundtrack-like atmosphere. While their set wasn’t spectacular as a whole (too plangent and lengthy), certain details stood out, for example the warm sound of a horn pervading through a songs. Those kinds of intricacies added nice accents to the music. It was also engaging to see the guys in the band were al multi-instrumentalists and frequently swapped instruments. This is in a sense a cool thing, but in the end it lead to annoying breaks between songs as there was a change nearly after every song and the stage was so narrow that the guys always would get in each other’s ways.
The four girls of Pascal Pinon had no problems like that, even though they also had a wide variety of instruments including guitars, harmonica, violin and synths to create a gentle frame for the beautiful voices of singers Ásthildur and Jófríður. Risið had filled about half in the meantime and people rushed to the stage to follow 45 minutes of emotional supersweet pop music. Fortunately Pascal Pinon never sounded dodgy or fake, just four girls with a good sense for melodies and how to transform them into music.
Next was Icelandic singer-songwriter Svavar Knútur. As he was performing alone and partly playing the Ukulele, it was even more aggravating that people kept on talking while he already had started. Solo artists should in general and always be introduced with a gong or cannon shot, so everyone knows the show is on now! Despite the bumpy start, it just took four more minutes until the main part of the audience stood in front of the bearded man and sung with him the refrain of his first song. A situation that actually happened a several times, the funniest of which was when it was an Icelandic song, which didn’t keep the audience from trying to join Svavar in a hilarious canon. Svavar again and again interrupted his set of folky and emotional guitar songs to convey fuzzy thoughts, funny remarks and comical stories.
When the next band, Of Monsters And Men, entered the stage, it had gotten crowded by the stage, as more and more people came to see these winners of the recent annual Icelandic ‘battle of the bands’. Their professional, yet not at all rattled off performance, showed the qualities of this young band: they are good instrumentalists and they have many clever ideas (what a great trumpet entrance!) for catchy folk-rock songs made them not only well-deserved winners of the Músíktilraunir contest, but also a highlight of the evening at Risið.
Icelandic blues musician Jón Tryggvi and his band faced a tough situation, as many people left the venue after Of Monsters And Men’s performance. While their sound in general wasn’t very impressive – your standard blues-rock – they sowed some serious skills on their instruments! If there for example were a trophy for the most awesome organist of the evening, it would totally go to the one in Jón Tryggvi’s band. Though instrumentation skills alone, do not a rousing concert make.
Unfortunately Risið remained quite empty, also for the appearance of My Summer As A Salvation Soldier, the solo project of Þórir Georg Jónsson, a Icelandic hardcore-punk veteran. This set of moving alternative-punk rock by Þórir and his two companions should have been seen (and heard) by more people! On the other hand the 20 people around made the best of it and started a sit-in in front of the stage. This at least created a familiar atmosphere that fit the personal and laid back songs of the band very well.
A lot has been speculated prior to the gig of Sindri Eldon, infamous mastermind of the even more infamous and misbehaving Reykjavík punk band Slugs. However his appearance turned out to be not very spectacular. Risið had filled a little more again and the newly arrived people saw Sindri play half an hour of teenage pop-punk and afterwards thanking everyone politely for having come out to see him.
As he (probably) wasn’t allowed to play an encore, which people actually claimed, the evening at Risið just faded out somehow. It seemed like it had lost its verve in the middle, which was kind of sad, because it was not (only) the band’s fault.

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