I start the day off at 5:20 am with a fire alarm sounding, and jump straight out of bed, part of me still thinking that I’m at the FM Belfast concert that only finished a few hours earlier.
To calm my nerves, I can’t think of a better tonic than Rökkurró, who deliver a truly delicious acoustic set at the Nordic House. The story goes that Rökkurró formed in an attic space, and had to play quietly so as not to disturb the neighbors. True or not, their sound is soft and gentle, topped by Hildur’s distinctive voice. Perfect.
I try to catch Boy at the Downtown hostel, but they have adopted a very un-Icelandic policy of locking the door when reaching capacity. This will never do, I think to myself, as I hurry to see Tilbury at restaurant Reykjavík instead. This too is a disappointment. Despite being proclaimed as Iceland’s next big things, they deliver average 90’s-esque Indie tracks with little to challenge or endear anyone.
Pollapönk are in the Inspired by Iceland shed. This leads to the sight of four grown men in different colored track suits trying to play their instruments in a confined space. It’s entertaining if nothing else, but at this point in the week, I am a little jaded, complete with blisters on my feet, and the feeling that I can’t drink any more beer tonight. I need something a little better.
I take my first trip to the Salvation Army Chapel, a new venue, and discover that not many others have done the same. It’s a new venue for this year, and has a different feel to it; the polar opposite to Harpa. Ingunn Huld plays a beautiful set of acoustics songs to a sparsely populated room. No matter though, because Ingunn weaves the songs with personal stories, tales of love and chocolate cake, and delivers her set with an intriguing sweetness that I’m sure will see her go far.
Eliza Newman, in contrast, has been around for a bit. She still has it though, and captivates the audience in Eymundsson bookstore, sometime even getting people to look up from their books or put down their coffee.
It’s back to the shed for me. Sóley is actually Sóley Stefánsdóttir, a twenty something girl from Reykjavík. She has the correct credentials; she learnt classical piano from an early age, before moving onto big band, brass and then composition. She cut her musical teeth whilst in Seabear, finding that her voice was something more than just something to use when doing the dishes. Unlike Seabear, which grows in numbers akin to a West Coast rap group, Sóley keeps things simple, preferring to keep her shows simple, often performing with just a drummer and her trusted keyboard.
We Sink, Sóley’s debut album was released to critical acclaim, nominated for various awards, and is an album that I keep returning to even a year after its release. Here, her songs benefit from the intimate space, in a way that her Art Museum show earlier in the week struggled with. Despite the cold, I enjoy Sóley’s short set and I’m pleased I managed to catch her at her best.
With a Django Django shaped hole in my schedule, the highlight of the night was Ghostpoet. A Londoner, he delivers pictures of like from a grimy capital in rap and poetry over surprising backing tracks. When he breaks into ‘Survive it,’ I think I might just know what he is talking about.
Edward Hancox - firstname.lastname@example.org