Tag Archives: boston

Taste of Iceland 2017: Boston edition

Taste of Iceland is back again, March 16-20th with a variety of Icelandic events to please everyone.  Art, Food, literature, Short film, and of course, Music.  Every year they seem to top themselves, and this year looks to be no different.

Music first!  This year two rather large Icelandic bands will be performing at Reykjavik calling on Saturday March 18th; MAMMÚT, and FUFANU.

Reykjavik calling is a free concert at the Middle East Club in Central Square on March 18th at 9pm.  Every year it is packed, and while doors open at 8pm, I would suggest being there early as the line typically wraps around the building and latecomers tend not to get in, so show up early and make new friends while in line.

The Icelandic bands for this year’s festival are Mammút, and FUFANU.  Both bands are extremely popular all over the globe, so it’s really cool they are going to make it to Boston.

mammut

Mammút consist of Katrína Mogensen, Vilborg Ása Dýradóttir, Alexandra Baldursdóttir, Arnar Pétursson, and Andri Bjartur Jakobsson.  Shortly after forming in 2003 they won the coveted 2004 Músiktilraunir, the annual Icelandic battle of the bands.  And now 14 years later they are working on their 4th album.  The following song is still one of my favorites, but you should check out their Youtube page for more videos.

Katrína has one of those powerful voices that along with the rest of the band creates a powerful wall of sound that pulses through you like an angry heartbeat.  They are one of my favorite bands to see in Iceland.

fufanu

Fufanu have certainly evolved over the last 9 years.  In the beginning they were Captain Fufanu an electronic duo, but now they have dropped the captain and Fufanu has released their second album, “Sports.”

Now a three piece, Kaktus Einarsson, Guðlaugur Einarsson, and Erling Bang have created a part new wave – part minimal Alternative pop album that suits their stage presence nicely.  I’ve seen them play many different types of music, but this last year they really were on a plane of their own as they cranked out one hell of a solid set in front of a massive crowd at Harpa.  If you’re a fan of bands such as Oasis, Blur, and the Servants, you’ll really dig their set.

From Boston, the Dirty Dottys will be performing.  A seven piece, self described “pop-motown, rump-shaking, heart-thumping, swoon-inducing ensemble whose goal is to create music that makes their audience, move, groove, and high five their neighbors.

Live shows are like a party, and the musical powerhouse group entertains as well as moves their loyal crowds.

There is a lot more going on during the week as well.  chef Siggi Helga from Grillið restaurant is flying to Boston to create a three course Icelandic dinner at The Merchant with the help of American chef, Edwin Morales.  And he’s joined by the mixologist Kári Sigurðsson and by the Merchant’s Bryan Ames using my favorite Icelandic vodka, Reyka Vodka, and the classic Brennivin.  Check out the Taste of Iceland website for menu and pricing.

The first lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid, will be at WBUR, to discuss the attractions and lure of authors to Iceland, as well as talking about famous Icelandic authors and books.  The Brattle theatre will host a viewing of the short film series, Stockfish, a 6 short film series of Icelandic films.  There will be a discussion and display of Icelandic contemporary art at the The Kingston Gallery at SoWa, hosted by Björg Stefánsdóttir

This week is always a lot of fun, and most of it is free to the public.  Check out the Taste of Iceland page for RSVP’s, details, and fun contests they will be having during the week.

 

 

 

 

Taste of Iceland 2016

It’s time again for the annual Taste of Iceland event here in Boston.  The cultural event that brings a sampling of Icelandic culture to different cities around the United States every year.

Food, film, music and writing are all part of this year’s event.  For us music-minded folks there is a two-fer of sorts.  Along with the Reykjavik calling concert, they are also showing “Rokk I Reykjavik” at the Brattle theatre.

This year’s cuisine event will be held at The Merchant, a great little spot located in the finance district /downtown crossing area.  The Merchant’s chef Matt Foley will collaborate with Thrainn Freyr Vigfússon of LAVA, the Blue Lagoon restaurant in Iceland.  Learn more about the menu here, as with all of the events of Taste of Iceland, it’s highly recommended you reserve your spot sooner than later.

For the literature lovers and writers out there, I suggest you attend “The Write stuff” led by Eliza Reid, a co-founder of Iceland’s writers retreat.  On March 5th, 1:00-2:30pm she will go into the hows and whys of Iceland’s strong written word history at the Barnes and Noble in the Prudential Center.  Also, there will be a lot of great books written by Icelandic authors available for purchase, including Halldór Laxness, and Jon Gnarr.  Learn all about it here

For Film:

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Rokk í Reykjavik is playing at the Brattle Theater, March 6th at 3PM!  This documentary is one I suggest everyone watch.  It’s chock-full of music goodies and interviews and concert footage of a lot of classic Icelandic musicians.  You’ll see a lot of the folks you already know, and most likely, you’ll learn about new artists and bands you really should know.  Not only does Boston get treated to this documentary, but Sigtryggur Baldursson, A man who happens to have been in a lot of my favorite classic Icelandic bands including Sugarcubes, Kukl, and Þeyr, will be on hand afterward for a Q&A.  Here’s the band Þeyr doing “Rúdolf” from the Rokk í Reykjavik documentary: 

rceventbriteboston

And now, Reykjavik Calling. On March 5th at 8pm the annual concert at the Middle East will happen.  This concert combines both local Boston bands with Icelandic bands, typically the atmosphere is uplifting, and it feels like a giant party.  This year Boston locals Neme and Adam Ezra Group will play with Axel Flóvent and CeaseTone.  The Concert is free, and I suggest getting there early as it always fills to capacity quickly.

You can see photos of previous Reykjavik Calling’s here.

Nemes

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From Boston, Nemes is an indie folk-ish band, with high energy and excitability their charm comes in exciting crowds a mix of folk, country and rock.

Axel Flóvent

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In excellent contrast, Axel Flóvent from Iceland will be there.  Calming, mellow and harmonic music reminiscent of Nick Cave.  I’ve seen him live a few times up in Iceland, and it’s difficult not to get sucked into the music.  He’s one of the great new exports of the Island and it’s rare I find folks who dislike him.

the Adam Ezra Group

adam-ezra

Also from Boston, the Adam Ezra Group will be performing.  Boston is famous for large bands, groups of friends getting together to make great music.  Adam Ezra Group certainly fits the bill.  a great group of folks churning out good ole rock and roll.

CeaseTone

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And last, certainly not least CeaseTone will be here.  CeaseTone is just as much about guitars and rock as electronics, expertly combining the two creating great music.  Another band I’m looking forward to seeing here in Boston.

It’s going to be a great couple of days here in Boston.  I highly suggest you RSVP on Facebook or the Taste of Iceland website, as things fill up quickly and sell out every year.

I asked CeaseTone the standard 4 questions, and Hafsteinn Þráinsson was kind enough to answer:

  1.  What’s your favorite place in Iceland to play:  A place called Húrra!
  2. What is you or the band’s favorite color:  Deep Blue
  3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin:  In The Company Of Men, Gangly, Muck and soo many others
  4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song:  Do you mean favorite song in general or with the band? If in general I’d like to be Yoda rapping “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” by Kendrick Lamar.  If with the band I’d like to be Gandalf The White playing “Full circle”

See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Börn! Basement! Boston!

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I first heard Börn when I was up in Iceland last year.  After hearing a track or two I was excited to get the chance to hear them in person at Iceland Airwaves ’14.  Alas, their time slots never seemed to work, and when I did finally get to see them, I had to split the time as I really wanted to see another of Iceland’s punk bands, Kælan mikla, who were playing directly below Börn at the same time.  So I got to see a half show but really wanted more.

Luckily for me, this past Saturday they stopped by a random Boston basement on their U.S. tour to play a gig with Laika’s Orbit and Leather Daddy. put on by the outfit, Grandma’s house.

Laika’s Orbit was a pleasant pop-punk band, more punk than pop, but their melodies and rhythms worked well in being the first band of the night.  Leather Daddy, an all female band, growled and thumped causing the crowd in this tiny basement to move around to the absolute limit they could.

Börn, up next, is comprised of 4 members; Alexandra on vocals, Anna Guðný on Guitar, Júlíana on bass, and Fannar on drums.  Their riffs remind me of Christian Death and their hard-edged vocals amplify the complex and somewhat forcefully dark energy that erupted from their playing area.  There is a lot of energy,  Fannar almost knocked the bass drum over twice, Alexandra had to put two cinder blocks in front just to keep it still.  There may or may not have been a kick pedal casualty during the set.  When they were finished, the crowd politely asked for more, and the they obliged with one more song.

From what I’ve been told, and what I’ve Google translated, their lyrics cry out against the horrible way we treat folks over body image and stereotypes.  And they are living proof that no matter what folks think, you can do whatever it is your mind is set to do, and you can do it well.

They still have a few weeks left.  I highly suggest you go see them, rock out, and pick up their merch.  They have their 7″ single, and a cassette of their long sold out full length album, as well as T-shirts and buttons.   I’ve included their U.S. tour poster here; they still have gigs spread out over the U.S.

borntour

You can keep up with them on Facebook, or visit their website here.

Iceland invasion in Boston, Ólöf Arnalds and GusGus

olofgus

There will be two different Icelandic acts performing this weekend in Boston. On Saturday the 11th,  Ólöf Arnalds will be at the Paradise Rock Club for the sold out Jose Gonzalez / Ólöf Arnalds gig, and GusGus will be performing at the Sinclair on Sunday the 12th. Two completely different genres of Icelandic music in one weekend.

Ólöf Arnalds has one of those voices that translates well over many different types of music. She’s a former member of múm and has collaborated with a good deal of the Icelandic musician populace while finding the time to release 3 of her own albums. This video is from her newest album, Palme:

Við og Við is the album that I was introduced to her by, and it’s a sweet traditional album of what I have always felt were folktales. Her newer albums have taken that sweet traditional style and incorporated unique beats and modern sounds creating an individual style of troubadour-ism, and she’s started to sing in English which is good for us poor souls that, try as we might, can’t seem to get the Icelandic language down. I’ve had the opportunity to see her a few times around Iceland and each time felt as if this was a personal gig for friends hanging out, as if she had just shown up with a guitar and wanted to play, catering to the atmosphere of the individual venue she was at.

She’s playing with another talented singer-songwriter named Jose Gonzalez. Of Argentinian descent, Jose was born and grew up in Sweden. There’s a great cross culture of pop, latin, and northern found in his songs.

Ólöf Arnalds comes from a diversely musical family. She’s the cousin of Ólafur Arnalds, and she’s the sister of Klara Arnalds of Boogie Trouble. And as you know, I am a massive fan of Boogie Trouble.  Lucky you if you are going to the gig, it’s going to be a great way to spend a Saturday evening.

GusGus have been around for 20 years now and have 10 albums under their belt, 9 studio albums and one live. It’s an ever evolving beast that has been home for many musicians, including Emilíana Torrini, and Magnús Guðmundsson. It now consists of 3 members, Birgir Þórarinsson, Daniel Ágúst Haraldsson, and Högni Egilsson.

Their albums are all in the wide spectrum of electronic, sometimes moody but mostly energetic tracks that come across well both on album and live. Forever will always hold a special place in my collection, as during the time I lost 200lbs, Forever was one of the most frequently used albums as the beat just happened to run parallel to mine at the gym. While they do have a darker feel occasionally, there’s a high energetic wave-band that flows out of them.

I promise no one will be just standing around Sunday night. I’ve seen them play massive gigs with many people on stage in Iceland as well as dj sets in bar-like atmospheres with only a few of them, and they always put on a fantastic show.

It’s going to be a fantastic weekend of music around Beantown so I suggest you get up and out and do something.  There has been a great deal more of Icelandic bands visiting our city, and I hope it continues as it’s been great seeing these folks off the island.

Taste of Iceland Boston 2015

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The annual Taste of Iceland event is here March 12th through the 16th.  This year there is a great dinner menu at Tavern Road , a community discussion between specialists in Reykjavik and Boston on future Innovations in energy and transportation, the Reykjavik calling concert, and an Icelandic film festival at Kendall Square Cinemas.  You can make reservations, and learn about the entire event here.

Now let’s focus on the music. Reykjavik calling, an annual concert is once again at the Middle East Club in Cambridge March 14th, doors open at 8.

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Iceland Naturally traditionally grabs a couple bands from Iceland, and a couple bands from the local scene, then tosses them together to collaborate and put on a show.  These tend to be unique shows as the musicians really make it feel like a party.  It’s a chance to discover new artists or new things about the artists you already like.   Best of all, it’s free.

It’s recommended that you RSVP for the event via Eventbrite, but getting in is first come first serve.  This event gets crowded, so from past experience I suggest you show up early as the lines build quickly and I’ve seen them wrap around the Middle East more often than not.

This year two Icelandic bands, Kaleo and BeeBee and the BlueBirds, will play along with two Boston outfits, Love in Stockholm and George Knight with Pablo Palooza.

Kaleo began in 2012, and saw their S/T album hit number 1 in 2013.  A pleasant blend of Bon Iver and Black keys.

Beebee and the Bluebirds is a jazzy rock band fronted by Brynhildur Oddsdóttir.  She’s got one of those great soulful voices, and naturally entertains crowds.

Love in Stockholm is good old rock from Allston.  Blending classic with modern, they have a local reputation for great live gigs, and have built a great following around the New England area.

George Knight and Pablo Palooza are rock/soul/funk locals.  George, a DJ at WERS during the day, musician all the time perfectly compliments the Pablo Palooza players bringing a lot of energy wherever they play.

I asked a slightly altered version of my nonsensical questions.  Beebee & the Bluebirds (BBB) Love in Stockholm (LiS) and Pablo Palooza (PaB) were kind enough to answer.

1. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get?

  • (BBB) Black striped violet red….
  • (LiS) ROY G. BIV
  • (PaB) Black

2. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Iceland/Boston origin?

3. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song?

  • (BBB) I would be a black panther singing “Think”
  • (LiS) A minotaur playing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”
  • (PaB) I would be an Eagle playing “I Am” by Earth Wind and Fire

Taste of Iceland is always a fantastic time, make sure to check some of it out.  Check out more info on all the bands below, and we’ll see you there.

Taste of Iceland 2014 – Boston

TOI

For my post on the Reykjavik Calling concert on May 15th.  Click here.

Taste of Iceland is coming back to Boston this week with food, art, and of course the free concert, Reykjavik Calling.  The event goes March 14th through the 18th, with Reykjavik Calling happening Saturday, March 15th.

Iceland Naturally has been putting Taste of Iceland on for 10 years.  A cooperative marketing outfit, Iceland Naturally promotes all things Icelandic and Taste of Iceland is their signature event.  Supported by a large community of Icelandic sponsors such as Icelandair, Icelandic Group, Islandsbanki, Reyka Vodka, City of Reykjavik, Icelandic Glacial Water, Blue Lagoon, Keflavik International Airport (KEF), Landsvirkjun, Promote Iceland, and the Government of Iceland, the event brings an Icelandic representation of cuisine, art, literature, and music to North America.

This year along with the concert at the Middle East Club, there is a Reyka vodka cocktail class at the Liberty Hotel, a Photography exhibit the 555 Gallery, and all event long you can sample Icelandic cuisine at Rialto.  Go here to read more about these events and RSVP as some events are limited.

RC14

Every year Taste of Iceland delivers different artists from Iceland to North America for a concert called Reykjavik Calling.  The artists not only play their own material, but pair with local artists creating interesting collaborations.   They coordinate with local radio stations, in Boston’s case WERS, to pair the musicians and this year Boston will see The Love Experiment and Skinny Bones on stage.

In the past, acts such as Lay Low, Pétur BenSnorri Helgason and Sóley have all played.  And this year, Retro Stefson, Sin Fang and Hermigervill are playing.  All three musicians deserve their own write up, but as that would make for a rather long blog post I’ve just put a snippet and links to more.  If you click on their names it will take you to their Soundcloud pages, and I’ve embedded my favorite tracks available via Soundcloud above the artist.

Retro Stefson are a supergroup of sorts, they’ve grown and adapted over the years, but their live gigs still remain high energy and fun.  And while the members of the band have branched out into things of their own, they always come back together to entertain the masses.

Hermigervill, AKA Sveinbjörn Thorarensenis a remix master.  He has remixed quite a few of Iceland’s top artists, as well as creating original sounds.   His original work reminds me of the carefree and happy days of BS2000 and it’s enjoyable pretty much anywhere you’re listening to it.

I’ve written about Sin Fang before and every year I see him at Airwaves he’s running around mad playing as often as he can or selling artwork.  His new album, Flowers, justifiably has earned accolades across the globe, and I hear he’s been playing new material all over Reykjavik so I’m hoping he brings the new stuff down here.

The Concert is Saturday March 15th.  Doors are at 8pm, gig starts at 9.  It’s free so I suggest you show up earlier than later, and RSVP here.  This really is a powerhouse of Icelandic musicians, and the possible collaborations between the artists could make for quite the concert.  If you are into all things Icelandic I also suggest you follow Iceland Naturally on Facebook as they frequently keep you informed of Icelandic things that may be happening around where you live.

Taste of Iceland only gets to come to a select cities here in North America, so Bostonites, get out and enjoy what they have to offer.  For all the details, times, RSVP’s and dinner reservations, go here.

Hermigervill was ever so kind as to answer my 4 nonsensical questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at?  There are now so many off-venues at Iceland Airwaves, it’s hard to pick! Last year, Kex Hostel hosted a really good program, and I had a very memorable show there.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get?  I get a song. I see colours when I make music.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?   a) “Þú & Ég” was a great 70’s disco thing which was big here, but never made it out of the country, despite several attempts.  b) “Grísalappalísa” is a raw punky rock kind of band, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but there is some special energy going on there, especially during their phenomenal live shows. I just did a remix for them which should be out soon.  c) “Highlands” is a new project consisting of my friend and bandmate Logi Pedro and singer Karin Sveinsdóttir. This will be big, that’s all I can say!

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song?  Any kind of bird. I love birds, and spent my childhood summers on a remote island, in close proximity to arctic terns, puffins and eider ducks. This bird would probably be playing the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis.

Sigur Rós on the East Coast


I’ve seen Sigur Rós play a small bar in Park city Utah with half of us listening while the other half gawked at the Sundance celebrities. To now, their biggest show at Madison Square Garden. I’ve seen them in multiple countries more times than probably healthy and they’ve yet to disappoint.

 
 

The first of my two gigs this go around was in New York at Madison Square Garden.  MSG was exciting, as there was new stuff and new versions of old stuff. It was fresh and-just out-of-the-package for me. That old excitement and experience that creates über-fans was mine for the taking, and take it I did.  I was smiling ear to ear when Hrafntinna began, and really beaming when it ended, thinking, “this is it.. the new Sigur Rós, and it’s good, really really good.”

 
 
 
 

The new material is Heavier; gritty, dark, and raw. It’s rather aggressive and full of energy, yet it still has a very ethereal aura about it. And yes, it’s almost as difficult to describe as it is to read that first sentence, it’s much better heard than read about. The gig left me extremely excited to get the new album and hear the rest. I was lucky enough to see and hear Brennisteinn at it’s debut in Iceland, and at both gigs this go around. Here is the official video for it:

setlist

 

The Boston show was also great, pretty much if not, the same playlist as the MSG show.  And while there were no lasers at the Boston show the vocals seemed stronger and more clear and there were less technical glitches, aside from the drum mic that blew up. It was a pleasant surprise to hear festival at both shows, as it was rumored we wouldn’t hear it. And of course popplagið ended both shows.

 
 
For this tour, Jónsi, Georg and Orri are accompanied by an outfit called the Okkr Ensemble. As hard as I’ve tried, I’ve found little information on them, the Okkr Ensemble consists of Sigrún Jónsdóttir on Trombone, Ingrid Karlsdóttir on Viola, Guðbjörg Hlín Guðmundsdóttir (Guggy) and Laufey Jensdóttir with Violins, Eirikur Orri Ólafsson on Trumpet and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir with the French Horn. Ólafur Björn Ólafsson (Óbó) and Kjartan Holm also join the band as multi-tasking instrumentalists, Óbó primarily on the keys, and Kjartan on guitar.

The stage matches the liveliness of the individual songs, sometimes it’s just three spotlights highlighting the band and other times it’s a large concave screen that hangs permanently above the band interacting with the lights on stage, or showing scenes from old music videos, fireworks, or stars.

Sigur Rós is definitely one of the top bands I recommend people see no matter what they think of the albums. So much time is spent into perfecting the audio/visual display, and they have an incredible ability to pull you in with the emotion and energy flowing from their stage. If you haven’t seen them in a while you need to go see the new show as the new material really creates a shiny fresh energy felt throughout both old and new songs. I certainly experienced that old “YASSSS!” Feeling of old. Adding to my renewed sense of awe, I took a friend who had never seen them to the New York concert and got to witness her first time excitement. “They are really REALLY Fucking good.” was her quote in fact.

I took the photos above, there are more here if you’d like to browse, and of course you can find out more information on tour dates here. You can stream pretty much all of their albums almost anywhere, though I always suggest you check out Gogoyoko. And they are on Instagram, Facebook, and most likely Myspace.