Tag Archives: live

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.

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

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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.

Boogie Trouble

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Disco? In Iceland?  I’ll let you all in on a dirty little secret, Icelanders once disco’d the hell out of disco.  In fact, one of their own, Þórir Baldursson was rather successful in the US working with Donna Summers and others during the global disco hayday.   While Disco on the small island may have been short lived, Boogie Trouble is doing a fine job of bringing it back with their ‘disco-funk-full-o-soul’ style of music.

swankyBoogie trouble started in 2011.  Myth has it the band tweaked a reggae tune to match their style and decided to keep at it.  The members are all experienced musicians, with Ingibjörg Elsa Turchi formerly of Rökkurró on bass;  Helga Ragnarsdóttir currently of Rökkurró on keys;  Sigurður Tómas Guðmundsson formerly of Snorri Helgason’s old band Sprengjuhöllin on drums;  Sindri Freyr Steinsson from Iceland’s Surf rock band Bárujárn on guitar and vocals, and lead singer Klara Arnalds, who has the ability to soothingly punch the grumpies out of any audience member within range of her energetic smile and waves of flying hair.

On my must see list at Iceland Airwaves this year, the band came highly recommended from a slew of Icelandic musicians.  There is a dangerous line that can be crossed when playing funk or disco, but their strong songwriting and musical craftwork bring the energy and fun of that era while leaving behind any unintentional signs of gimmick.  They were tight on the instruments and every one of them on stage appeared to be having a good time.

Most of their songs are in Icelandic, but the manner in which they are written, and the enjoyment and energy the band projects from the stage make the language barrier moot. They do have a few cover songs, including Britney Spear’s Toxic, which you can download for free at Soundcloud.

They are promising new stuff and even an album soon in the future.  They are on Facebook, as well as Soundcloud.  And the band was nice enough to answer my 4 very not-so-serious questions:

1.  What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  The best place to go partying is probably Harlem because even when it sucks it is tolerable. The best place to play music used to be Faktorý but that got torn down to build hotels.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  Litographicly probably some sort of brown sludge. That or purple.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Svartidauði, Nolo, Ojba Rasta, the list goes on. A lot of talented people happen to live on this rock.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  Cthulu playing Strawberry letter 23, with The Brothers Johnson. That would probably be deep.

Sigur Rós in New Orleans

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Here we go Sigur Rós in New Orleans.  For me, gig number 3 of this tour, gig number 123 for the band,  This tour has really been exciting for me, having been to every tour they’ve done stateside since 2002, and catching them at Airwaves last year, the new catalog of songs mixed with the occasional old track really have brought back that old time excitement.

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Many factors made me question how the concert was going to turn out.  It had been raining buckets earlier in the day, and with temps in the upper 80’s the afternoon felt like a sauna.  Also, we were two days away from Tropical Storm Karen’s appearance so the wind and weather were unpredictable.  But as the evening rolled around the weather mellowed out and it turned out to be a fantastic night for an outdoor gig, with only a sprinkle of moisture towards the end.

The band came out, and with a lot of action from the fog machines, began the show.  Even with a smaller than usual backdrop, and playing to a concrete jungle surrounded by sports paraphernalia, the band squashed any concern one may have had, and did I mention they did it with fog?

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Julianna Barwick opened the concert, which sadly due to pre-concert logistics I missed.  But after a brief wait Jónsi, Georg, Orri, Kjartan(Holm), óbó and the Okkr Ensemble took the stage.  Even with the standard set list, every Sigur Rós show is slightly different.  They feed off the crowd, and it’s rare to find someone who isn’t captivated by some part of the concert.

I was glad to hear Rafstramur added into the mix and as is typical with Sigur Rós tracks, the live version breathed it’s own fire and was it’s own beast.  Festival is a track everyone should experience more than once.  The first time you hear it you will feel entranced and will focus all your attention forward as it comes to it’s climatic point.  The second or third time, you get to watch others experience it for their first.  It truly is an incredible song to experience live.

The set list was:

Yfirborð  Ξ Brennisteinn Ξ Vaka Ξ Glósóli Ξ Hrafntinna Ξ Stormur Ξ Saeglopur

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varuð Ξ Hoppí + Með Blóð Ξ Rafstraumur Ξ Kveikur Ξ Festival Ξ Popplagið

As if there isn’t enough intensity from the music alone, the band’s visual team never fail.  Even with a smaller screen in New Orleans, the vivid cinematography combined with intricate interactions to the stage lights and  band themselves really help deliver an all encompassing experience.  It’s only fitting that the team recently won the Knights of Illumination award for best lighting and video.  Sarah Hopper and Damian Hale have created backdrops of strangers on a mountain signalling to the lights surrounding the band, nuclear missile explosions, strobing lighthouses, serene oceanic scenes, and close-ups of the band members themselves jamming away, all mixing with Bruno Poet’s lighting show.  The imagery is never overpowering, but synced perfectly with the music enhancing the experience, and these guys truly deserve that award.

Another great tour, and they continue to prove they are a band everyone should, needs to see once in their lives.  I highly suggest seeing them this tour as you never know when they’ll be back.  All photos on this page were taken by me, if you’d like to see others, they are located on my Flickr Account, here for the New Orleans gig, and Here for the Boston/New York concert.

Lay Low live stream

Lay Low (click link for my post on her) doing an online gig from the comfort of her living room this weekend, you should definitely check it out.

Iceland, Defrosted

The lovely Lay Low, who features in Iceland Defrosted, is performing a live concert from her home in Iceland on Saturday May 4th, and this can be seen on the Inspired by Iceland website. I will definately be tuning in. 

 

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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:

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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.

FM Belfast

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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.