Where to begin, where to begin. First I want to say thank you to Arnie at Grapevine and Magnús from ADHD for helping me secure tickets to the two shows at Harpa, which conveniently were right next to each other. I went back and forth as I saw fit. Addendum: my apologies for the time it has taken to release this article. I’ve simply had a lot of things happening in my personal life that have taken precedence at the moment. I’m still waiting for photos and whatnot to be approved.
I wholeheartedly, wholeheartedly believe that this was one of the most accessible bands I’ve ever seen in Iceland. Without question. Sin Fang is fun. Their singer is unique.. My ears enjoyed the sounds. The crowd took on the role of a catalyst of enjoyment, being flocked about by these purveyors of joy. Yes, there were nice sound effects, and the dual drummers were cool, and yes, the guys wore hats. Some moments reminded me of Gang Gang Dance. Some very brief moments that disappeared far too soon I wish lasted longer. Attending their show was like taking a masterclass in how to have a good time.
Reykjavík Jazz Festival
Ah, the endless debate of style versus substance rages on. After the experience which was Sin Fang, I took an interest in the jazzer section of events. I was learning a thing or two about virtuosity. Is that jellyroll on the skins? He beats them black and blue.
Adam Baldych Imaginary Quartet
This artist was restrained and tasteful. What I love about jazz is the restraint of ego. “We wear black.” Harpa’s Eldborg is gorgeous, and this music compliments it. Lights shine everywhere. Pizzicato beauty resounds. Fluttering. Has almost a Yanni-like feel. A fascinating intermingling of performances. Thunderous clapping.
Mats Gustafsson and the Thing
I heard TUNING! A trio of construction workers who happened upon instruments. It’s like sticking your head out of the window of a moving car, and just letting whatevver will hit you hit you. Is it Ornette? Is it John? It’s plaining, gliding on a flat surface now. There is still a sense of control. I love the sawtooth bowing by the bassist. Close your eyes and listen. I like the Chinese cymbal. I didn´t like the straight, clear voices. Typical. Punk sludge punch drunk riff tastic. The older folks wave byebye. Their loss. To quote an influential film, if it´s too loud, you´re too old. ´Back in my day´etc. comes to mind. Machine gun bass passages. yeah. Yeah. YEAH! HIT that fucking thing. Oh he did alright. Is it music or performance art? Miles walked a similar line. Riffs…and the drummer was a little stiff. Sixties surf tom tom tom. Great fills. I love the yelling. The bass drum sounds like shit. Too tight. Click pound bass. WAIT. That´s the dude from Lighting Bolt without the mask? HOLY FUCK! I saw this man with the Boredoms in 2006 and was utterly disfigured by their talent. Fucking awesome. Jazz version of Ride The Skies. What. The. Fuck! It´s as cool as it sounds. Magma-esque at times, even in terms of their gyrations. A tamer John Zorn with polyrhythms. They kept it about the music. It beggars belief as to why this place wasn’t full to capacity. Note to self: Human beings must create an alternative to concert hall seating. I’ve had it with standing up for each and every person.
As for ADHD, Cool gear. Bow at first. Gliding pulse. Crystalline. Subtlety. Golden harmonies. I was reminded of Pink Floyd. I love the most Enoesque changes in chord progressions. The reverb effect on the snare brushes. There were some secret, indistinguishable sounds, like voices. I like the Danelectro tone. French cafe music. Beautiful Wurlitzer. Ring modulator on the piano? The drums sound great. Detuning guitar! Chunky grooves. Psycho guitar. I hear the man breathing so well. Music made for relaxation. Men arching back with their instruments. A packed house for jazz. Goin’ Out West-like guitar. Simplicity is key.
Neutral Milk Hotel
A little “Velvety.” Bassist reminds me of the bassist from Hüsker Dü. No electric guitars in this band, really? Nice outfits. I like the older gentleman, he reminds me of a guy who belongs in a Lynyrd Skynrd tribute band. They remind me a little bit of Surfer Rosa-era Pixies. This is pretty happy music. Some nice accordion melodies. I want honesty when I see a band. Honesty. Get me going, please. Get me excited. This band has a few moments of that sort of thing, mostly in their instrumental passages. I want to say their lyrics are cliched for indie rock, but this band is old enough to have invented them. Considering that I know literally none of their songs, the impression I get of their live performance is fairly mild. Too many beards, says the bearded man. Let’s hear some banter. I wanna know what you think, singer/songwriter. Lots of assonance in this man’s lyrics. F, f, f. Lyrics including lines like “Make your smile sweet” and phrases such as “meaningful magic” ,and Da-Da-Dad-Da didn’t really do it for me. The jazz show so wildly contrasts with this one. One of the members of the band reminds me of Feist. The singer’s guitar tone is pretty tinny. It’s not often to hear a jazz guitar distorted. Great drummer, though. I wasn’t planning on sticking around for the encore. It seemed a bit forced and all too routine for them. The Icelandic spoken by the singer was a nice touch. The quest for authenticity I suppose reached it’s middle. A bit like being in purgatory. I just wasn’t convinced of their passion and honesty. Many people at this show seem very concerned with their general appearance. The door in this section of Harpa made a cool flanging sound when you opened it, and I opened it to see people hopping. This music belongs at McCarren Pool in Williamsburg. I read somewhere that your brain chemistry determines what kind of music you are into. I guess I have the wrong kind. I tried so hard to like them. The last song was okay. The guy is bowing something, Ithink a saw. A bit of an overrated live show, methinks.