Icelandic musician KÁRI (Kári Egillson) held a release show for his debut album Palm Trees in the Snow on May 11. Grapevine first discovered KÁRI about seven months ago and has since been closely following the young musician’s career. So far in 2023, things have been going well for KÁRI. Following the album release, it was announced that he will perform at Iceland Airwaves music festival. We attended the release concert and found out that KÁRI is much more than a one-man band!
The concert took place at Independence Hall, located in Iceland Parliament Hotel. The venue used to be home to NASA, the town’s iconic nightclub, which was torn down in 2018. The audience had mixed opinions about the venue — some were nostalgic about their youth and the many nights they spent dancing at NASA, while others complained about the acoustics.
Over the course of roughly an hour, KÁRI performed songs from his debut album Palm Trees in the Snow, which was released in March 2023, as well as a few brand-new songs that he was playing live for the first time. At times, the stage could barely fit the band — KÁRI was joined by musicians Ívar Andri Klausen (guitar), Friðrik Örn (bass), Magnús Þór Sveinsson (keyboard), Bergur Einar (drums) and Ómar Guðjónsson (guitar and steel guitar). The brass section consisted of Snorri Sigurðarson, Sigurrós Jóhannesdóttir and Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson on trumpet and Samúel Jón Samúelsson on trombone. During the second part of the performance, a string quartet also joined the group with Una Sveinbjarnardóttir (violin), Yasney Rojano Cruz (violin), Fidel Atli Quintero Gasparsson (viola), and Júlía Mogensen (cello).
“Prepare to be really sad for the next song,” says KÁRI as he swiftly moves his fingers across the piano keys. KÁRI started playing the piano at the age of 7, and at just 22, it’s clear that he is a very talented musician. His vocals are often soothing and mellow, with elements of jazz and bossa nova that transport the listener to another time and place. You might even forget for a moment that you’re in downtown Reykjavík and not in a jazz club in the heart of New Orleans.
The venue is crowded, and with no seats to spare, it’s impossible not to notice KÁRI’s dad standing at the end of the hall, singing along to every single song his son performs. It’s a heartwarming moment that adds to the already intimate atmosphere of the concert.
Listen to Palm Trees in the Snow here.
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