29 March 2007

midweek music

Yesterday, thanks to a guy I know at the French Embassy, I ended up at yet another event that was put on as part of the Franskt Vor (French spring) festival. It was held in the same venue as the music video recording last fall, only this time we weren't squashed into the tiny room at the side. The crowd was mostly foreign and heavy on the French, with the local population attending appropriately Ice-hipster cool. I spotted all the cool-people varieties last night that come out in droves on the weekend and for concerts like this. One girl with loud-colored tights, check (last night's representative was in scorching red). One ironic lopapeysa, check (he had skulls craftily knit into the yoke pattern), one girl clad in Rokk og Rósir wares (the local hipstervintage shop), and of course, plenty of guys with That Hairdo. It's the one that looks like hipster #1 hops into a car and sticks his head out the window hound-style, but facing backwards. Hipster #2 takes a few spins down Hringbraut, and with a little gel,voila, the perfect brushed-forward-and-stir style with no dryer time required! There was also one exceptional fellow wearing blue tiedye sweatpants and an orange lopapeysa. I think there's extra points for a guy like that.

Anyway, we'd all turned out to hear a combination of groups. Starting off we had Monade, two girls with guitars plus a guy on keyboards and another on percussion, accompanied by Jóhann Jóhannsson and his trombonists. Their sound was Belle & Sebastian without the crazy lyrics, Múm without the wandering percussion and surreal voices, Benni Hemm Hemm without the tight orchestral quality to the performance, AMPOP without that Icelandic melancholoy. In short, it was pleasant, listenable, and with decent movement but didn't feel really WOW. The lyrics might have been interesting, sometimes French, sometimes English, but it was difficult to hear them so I only could pick out the occasional phrase here and there.

The crowd kind of added to the feeling that it hadn't all come together. Maybe it's because it was a Wednesday, or maybe it's because I didn't realize that clapping and enthusiasm is not cool these days, but I actually spotted a guy sleeping in the corner midway through the set. The rest of the audience seemed kind of dull-eyed, with the exception of one American girl in the corner who was in full head-bopping mode. Don't get me wrong, the music was pleasant enough but just not really blowing my hair back...er.. forward.

Next came Angil, who educated us on a French literary movement called Oulipo that was fond of writing with interesting constraints. For example these Angil guys like to write their lyrics without using the letter E. Sounds a bit pretentious but their sound was much more interesting than the first group, with a hypnotic base drone and a tighter performance in general than the first band. One of the guys in the group was also a staff member at the French Embassy here and achieved some fame and press coverage last fall in a well-received play. He was playing a clarinet which was a bit difficult to hear but it was interesting to see him rocking out on an instrument I don't associate with that kind of band.

Since it was a school night I didn't stay to hear the whole set, so I hit the silent streets soon after that. On my way home it started to snow, tactile evidence of how winter's still hanging on to us a bit up here. There were hints of spring on my quiet walk through the neighborhood though- tightly folded buds on the low bushes behind Hallgrímskirkja, and near my front gate, flower shoots are almost six inches tall there. When this French spring festival started a few weeks ago, it certainly felt like the wrong season, but Iceland is catching up.

5 comments:

Mariovsky said...

I couldn't go to the French Festival, maybe next time.

Everybody say that it was an amazing meeting. I want a Spanish Festival in Reykjavík because it's a very good moment in order to see all the spaniards together...

ECS said...

mariovsky: Don't you live here? It's still going on for several more weeks, so you can get in on some of the action. There's even another concert tonight, and more French films to see at Háskólabíó. I linked to the website at the top of the post, so have a look!

Sarah said...

Perhaps the band Angil is conducting an experiment in lipograms? Or maybe they're just big fans of Ernest Vincent Wright? My brain hurts just thinking about trying to write that way!

-Sarah :O)

akd said...

Nice hipster descriptions! Some hipster friends and acquaintances recently were having a huge discussion about what constitutes a hipster, and it ended with them all strenuously denying their hipsterness (which is, despite the protestations, painfully obvious, from the legwarmers to the carefully-chosen obscure cultural references). It made me wonder why a hipster wouldn't want to be identified as one.

I especially like the hound-dog hairstyle, it sounds like fun.

ECS said...

sarah: Wow, I learned a new word today! That is exactly what they were doing, although according to Wiki, this Oulipo movement tried mathematical formulas as rules as well. I do like alliteration which is a sort of rule so maybe this would be an interesting experiment.

akd: Sounds like the conversation I would expect that crowd up there to have, and I have the definitive determination. Can you play hipster bingoat a party and win? When you come here we'll have to go to Sirkus and make the Icelandic version. It'll be awesome.