Search The Line of Best Fit
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Iceland Airwaves 2014: Day Two report

08 November 2014, 17:25 | Written by Thomas Hannan

The queue for Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends’ set at Bar 11 was longer than a David Foster Wallace novel, so we broke in via the basement and found ourselves dancing sheepishly at the front of the most straight up fun fun fun set Iceland Airwaves has gifted us so far. Furman, bedecked in a stripy, low cut top and dashing black skirt, was on scintillating form, leading his Boyfriends through a set of raucous, wittily acerbic rock and roll that brought to mind a fantasy world in which Mac Demarco fronted the E Street Band. And if you ask me, that’s the best thing one could possibly say about music made by a man strumming a guitar in 2014.

Remember the bands we were in when we were 18? Milkhouse are much, much better than any of them. In fact, every criticism one could level against their jazz-infused indie rock (admittedly not the most enticing juxtaposition of words) can be nullified by reiterating the fact that everyone in this band is still at bloody school. Their set at Loft Hostel – the first of four they played in a single day – was the day’s most charming, if understandably not its most cohesive. However, if the musical chops on display can be matched in future by their songwriting skill, they could be a little bit special.

We’ll have to check our notes, but it’s a fair bet that Pétur Ben’s set at Evropustofa was the first gig we’ve ever seen taking place at an information centre for the European Union. As salmon sandwiches and cheesecake were handed out at the back of the ‘venue’, Ben took the small but appreciative crowd to a place that was decidedly more sinister. Like a dream in which things are familiar but just a little bit, y’know, off, his guitar playing strays away from melodic conventions while his voice toes a poppier line, resulting in music that begs further investigation. Have you heard Sea Change by Beck? Reckon it had a few too many strings on it? This could be for you mate.

Though I’d only witnessed Jaakko Eino Kalevi play mid-day sets at festivals before, there was something about the swagger of his music that suggested it would be a far grander delight to witness at night time, a hypothesis that confirmed by last night’s excellent showing at Gamla Bio. While Kalevi cuts an endearingly humble figure between songs – the blushes on his cheeks when he receives a cheer for taking off his jacket are warm enough to heat up the entire room – his music is anything but modest, with bass lines that throb like a violent pulse and swathes of synths that border on hypnotic his most oft-used tools. He needs to make an album of the stuff, and quickly, because our record collections are poorer for the fact that they don’t contain it.

Despite Ireland’s much talked about Girl Band playing shows in my London hometown more often than I get to see my own mother in any given six months, last night’s show at Gaukurinn was the first time I’d ever managed to catch them live. I spent a good hour afterwards punching myself in the face for being such a lazy idiot, and hereby publicly vow to go catch them as many more times as I can before this festival is out. Hideous but invigorating noise, violent but vitalizing grooves, manic but perfectly placed yelps and screams – I loved every single note of it, and perhaps even preferred the bits that weren’t notes, but were instead the sound of all the bands who’ve influenced them decaying in to insignificance. If that sounds like I was getting carried away, it’s because I was, and it was brilliant.

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