Friday, November 04, 2011

Highs and Lows- Reykjavík Calling II


Northeast meets Northwest as Ólöf embraces David at the end of the show
With the lights out it's less dangerous...
Here we are now entertain us...
I feel stupid and contagious...
Here we are now entertain us...
Smells Like Teen Spirit ~ Nirvana

The second pairing of KEXP's Reykjavík Calling concert at Neumos in Seattle was more than successful, it was absolutely inspired. Guðrið Hansdóttir is a singer/songwriter from the Faroes, with a fine voice and guitar chops to match. Her songs concern nature, and nature in the Faroes means lots of rain. Tomo Nakayama was born in Japan and grew up in Seattle, he was no stranger to mists and fog either. His ethereal singing and masterful playing might be considered a bit precious by some, but he was a perfect complement for Guðrið. Trading lead vocals, singing harmony on most songs, this unlikely duo from the opposite ends of the earth really captured the intent of the concert, with numerous highlights in their nature-inspired songs. They captivated the packed venue.

And they had met only the day before!



Snorri Helgason is a troubadour from Iceland, I had seen him in the power-pop band Sprengjuhöllin in 2006. This was a whole 'nother thing. His "partner" was the salt-of-the-earth David Bazan with his primal "bummer songs". Both performers were competent, but neither was very charismatic. Snorri had a top album in Iceland last year, I think his strength may lie in his writing:



Take a deep breath. Okay. The next act was Sean Nelson, performing with a yet-to-be named band. I really would rather not write about his performance, I'll just throw out a few concepts: Buzz Kill. Unbridled Ego. Neurotica.
He barely interacted with the rest of the performers, I think he thought this concert was being held for the sole purpose of showcasing for his new "act". He single-handedly cleared the room of all but the most die-hard Ólöf Arnalds fans. The picture says it all:



Finally, chanteuse Ólöf Arnalds took the stage. She is a paradoxical musician, capable of esoteric art-song and bawdy pub-tunes. She started off with the story of how she learned to play guitar by listening to the Nevermind album, including a spoofed version of Polly. She then tried an acoustic a capella version of a poem by the Faroese writer William Heinesen, but yakkers at the bar wouldn't hear of it.

She played tunes from her new EP of covers, with some wild singing (she definitely is one of a kind!) but this night was not going to be a "serious" performance for her:



Sean Nelson and his band then slooowly returned to the stage, sabotaging what momentum Ólöf had established, with a knuckle-headed mash-up of Lou Reed(?) and Ólöf's own Klara. The finale was a ragged version of, what else- Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit! Everyone (everyone but too-cool Sean) got into the "spirit" although I doubt if anybody really knew the lyrics.

By Professor Batty



4 Comments:

Blogger Jono said...

How do you find this stuff?. It's very cool! We are being subject to the annual invasion of the "pumpkin people" and you get to go off to exotic ports in search of adventure and entertainment.


Blogger Professor Batty said...

Desperation, I guess, and the KEXP coverage of Iceland Airwaves. Wilder adventures to come...


Blogger Mary said...

Sounds like seeing the Icelandic musicians in Seattle was a mixed bag - but glad you were there to see and hear them.


Blogger Professor Batty said...

It was a lot of fun, I got to talk with Kevin Cole, and I even ran into someone I met at Airwaves!

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