Tag Archives: concert

Taste of Iceland, Boston 2018

It’s March, and that means it is time for another Taste of Iceland.  The cultural event that brings things such as Architecture & Design, Literature, Film, Food, and of course, Music from Iceland to different spots around the globe.  This year’s Boston event is March 8th through the 10th, with a Cocktail pre-game on the 7th at Drink.

As this is a music blog I’m going to touch on the music portion of the event, but you can go here for the complete schedule of events, including an Icelandic food menu at Townsman, a special cocktail menu at Beat Brasserie, an exhibit on Iceland’s Design and Architectual scene at the BSA Space, and a short film festival at the Brattle Theatre.

The annual Reykjavik calling concert typically consists of both local and Icelandic musicians.  Each performing a set of material, and sometimes if you’re lucky they will combine efforts for a big finale.  This year Taste of Iceland returns to the Paradise Rock club with JFDR and Sturla Atlas on the Iceland team, and Air traffic Controller for Boston.

JFDR is Jófríður Ákadóttir.  To call her an Icelandic music veteran seems a bit shallow as  not only is she half of the legendary Pascal Pinon, but part of Samaris and Gangly two bands that have really skyrocketed in popularity recently.  She tours a lot and at Iceland Airwaves she is always playing somewhere on any given day making her one of the hardest working musicians out there in my opinion.  Ákadóttir’s music spans genres, complex beats weaving in and out of darkness,  infused with jazz, ambient landscapes, soulful poetry and classical music.

While I love her new album “Brazil” as well as her music videos, nothing quite beats seeing her live.  No matter which bands I’ve seen her in, the emotion and energy she puts into performing entirely fills the space and will leave you in awe.

Sturla Atlas is part of a hip-hop-trip-hop-rap collective in Iceland named the 101 boys.  (101 is the Reykjavik zip code.)  hip-hop heavy, Sturla Atlas brings singing and catchy choruses to his music as well.  Last year Sturla Atlas opened for Justin Bieber up in Iceland at what was slated one of the largest, if not the largest concert in Iceland’s history.

And from Boston, Air Traffic Controller will be on stage.  The name comes when Dave Munro, the lead, would send back demos of his music while serving in the navy.  Known for bringing energy to live gigs, they also have a great music video that was released last year:

These concerts are always fun, and the bands tend to interact and join in on the party with the crowds.  It’s a great way to learn about new bands hear new sounds.  I do suggest you get there earlier than later as I’ve yet been to one that wasn’t booked at capacity and as it’s free, it’s first come first serve.

So get out and enjoy a little Icelandic culture for the week, it is always worth the effort.




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:


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: 


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.



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


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


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.



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!







Iceland invasion in Boston, Ólöf Arnalds and GusGus


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


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.


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.

FM Belfast live at Great Scott Feb 28, 2013


As it’s somewhat of a rarity to see Icelanders gracing our Boston stages and bars, I thought I would write a quick review of FM Belfast’s concert at Great Scott last night, Feb 28th 2013.  The gig got off to a late start, and as people drifted in YDIMITU began their heavy beats hidden behind two massive strobing LED blocks set to retina destruction level.  Next, the ever cheerful keys duo Child Actor took the stage and played to a still increasing dance floor crowd.

With slightly less than 200 people in attendance, FM Belfast came out to stage with full force AND Mexican party favors:


Instantly the floor of adults became partiers and the fun began.  Dancing on an amazingly small stage for 5 people, only a foot up above the crowd, Árni, Lóa, and crew had the audience crouching low, jumping high, and bouncing around every which way ‘til Sunday.  It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen an American adult audience be so alive and it was refreshing.



“Are you ready to jump!?” Shouts Árni just before the instruments kick in and a sound wave of music blasts over a very hyper audience.  I’ve seen many shows at Great Scott, but never have I began wondering just how much more the floor could flex before it might give in.


I wish I had a setlist for you, but I didn’t think about writing a review until this morning, so I am unprepared.  All the classics were hit as well as a good amount of stuff from the new album.  And of course, the band did underwear, and lost their pants in the process. There was blending of songs, and improvised extensions to allow the audience to dance even longer. The only song not played I would have liked to have heard was Tropical.

But it truly was a fantastic show, made slightly cooler by the smaller, very excited crowd.  You can check out my blog post on FM Belfast, which includes links to stream their albums as well as links to all their pages here. And you can catch FM Belfast live at the Studio at Webster Hall on March 3rd.

Thank you FM Belfast for a great night!

FM Belfast


A birthday track made by a couple, for a friend, became the beginnings of a snowball gradually gaining speed and size, rolling it’s way through dance floors, festivals, and bar venues taking peoples’ pants in return for lively gigs that feel more like all encompassing parties; this, is the FM Belfast I’ve experienced.

This post was done out of my chaotic order as they are playing Great Scott in Allston (Boston) on Feb. 28th.  I always get excited when an Icelandic band comes to Boston, but FM Belfast is famous for putting on amazing live shows anywhere they play.  They have an incredible knack for feeding off the energy of a crowd, creating their own energy, and turning any environment into a party.  I tried to find clips of live shows, but I honestly feel that you thumbing through this 47 minute set would probably give you a better idea of what to expect:

according to legend, and their website.  A couple, Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir, put together a birthday song for a friend.  As music things typically do, it got around and eventually more music was created by it.  The band expanded, and now includes players from a slew of great Icelandic bands, such as Borko, Retro Stefson, Múm, and Benni Hemm Hemm.  Depending on who’s available and what they are doing the roster can change from 3 to 11 players and that adaptability and keen sense for a good mood is what makes going to one of their gig’s absolutely worth it.

Before going into just how great the first time I saw them was, I feel there needs to be a little discography lesson and knowledge shared.  They are witty and have no lack of catchy tunes.  On How to make friendsthere is a keyboard playing monkey named Pedro being Tropical, a warped drunken-like version of the classic Pump up the jam,  motivational songs about being President, and of course, one of their most popular songs about being Icelandic and running down the street in their Underwear.  The band actually put together a lo-fi video for the song Underwear, I have to admit it cracks me up:

The newest album, Don’t want to sleep, still carries on the dance beat, but the lyrics get more serious, but not too serious.  You still have fantastic songs about learning American, and not wanting to go to sleep either.  But you also get darker dance beats and more mature sounding tracks like In Line, and Happy winterIn line is actually my favorite track off of the album.

Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir was kind enough to answer my 4 questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at? My favorite off venue last year was KEX hostel.

2. If you combine all of the band’s favorite colors what do you get? To start with, one of our bandmate has the favorite colors Neon Green and Burgundy red so I think the combo will always turn out to be pretty diarrhetic. Mine is a gray purplish sort of blue, I have a pen with that color and it’s called Cornflower. One bandmate doesn’t know and I can’t be bothered to call the rest of the guys. But like I said, the end result will be brown.

3. What are 3 Icelandic bands we haven’t heard of that we should? Nolo, Prinspóló and Boogie Trouble.

4. If you could be any creatures playing your favorite song, what would you be, and what song? It would be a really big crow singing Smog’s song Feather by Feather.

You can learn more about them on their websiteGogoyoko actually has a lot of remixes, and their full length albums, so I would suggest going and giving them a listen.  And of course they are on Facebook.