Grapevine Airwaves 2011

October 13, 2011

A Night To Remember

Markús and the Diversion Sessions

Music Overview

  • Artists: Fönksveinar, Náttfari, Nolo, Sóley, Markús and the Diversion Sessions, Snorri Helgason
  • Venue:  Harpa Kaldalón
  • Time:  Wednesday
  • The Good:  Beautiful venue, great acoustics
  • The Bad:  Far too warm inside, long pauses between performances
  • Reviewed by: Christopher Michael Czechowicz
  • Photo: Markús and the Diversion Sessions at Harpa Kaldalon on Wednesday. Photo by Rúnar Sigurður Sigurjónsson.

Fönksveinar – 20:00

Young, energetic, and looking good, these talented gents had the task of opening up Airwaves at Harpa Kaldalón, and did so confidently.

With a congealed, classic sound, Fönksveinar launched in front of an eager audience into their blend of funk and trad jazz in a manner that seemed as professional as it was smooth. From stunning basslines to a cool, bottom heavy guitar tone, these boys approached a lighter side of the genres they played with ease. Overall, their sound is in keeping with the traditional motifs of jazz and funk, but don’t be put off by the traditional aspect – they sported an excellent saxophonist, a zealous drummer and a dexterous axeman, which gave their tunes a big boost. The crowd, made up of people largely in their late adolescence, roared at the conclusion of each number. A lovely kick off to the night at Harpa!

 Náttfari – 20:50

Look out Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky – Náttfari are here. In a typical fashion, one may be quick to use terms like ‘ethereal’, ‘haunting’ and ’emotional’ to describe the omnipresent post-rock sound that has manifested in alternative rock circles for the last 15 years or so, but sometimes it’s used with merit. This is one of those times. Dreamy in timbre, emoting a raw, powerful sound, this band made excellent use of delay, pitchshifting and reverb technologies to emphasise their occasionally dissonant but harmonious wonders. Subsumed in melody and catchy beats, the crowd responded particularly well for their final number, which featured a synthesizer against their atypical 4/4 beat and vocal harmony. Overall, the band did post-rock right, with great humility and passion.

 Nolo – 21:40

A long delay between bands was remedied by the inevitable appearance of the next act: a quirky, catchy psypop outfit with a lowfi flair called Nolo. Two lanky, hunched over boys exuded a cheerfully obtuse sound that gives bands like MGMT a run for their money. In catchy pop songs fronted by rotovibing guitar, antiquated keys, and vocal choruses backed by minimalistic drum machine loops, perceivable nerdiness is overwhelmed by a genuine talent in producing great tunes. Hunched over their instruments in dedication to the sound, the crowd picked up on their jovial qualities quickly and took a liking to them that ensured that they remained curious and attentive throughout their performance.

 Sóley – 22:30

A stunningly beautiful pianist alongside a handsome and distinguished drummer took stage next. Sóley, donning Nordic fashion sensibilities, began playing wistful pop songs to a hip audience. Serene piano/guitar melodies and subtle drum patterns met and enmeshed with soothing, solitary voice in a gratifying way. Using samples and multiple vocal harmonies, Sóley produced a blessed concoction of arty singer-songwriter bliss that will resonate well with first-time listeners. What strikes quickly is the simplicity and palette of sounds used by both chanteuse and drummer, producing almost orchestral highlights with subtle accentuation. Sóley undoubtedly left the stage with a far greater fanbase, indeed happy to have heard them.

 Markús and the Diversion Sessions – 23:20

An ensemble came on stage and offered a sensational performance. With distance between genres of theirs and the previous groups great, the audience took note of a humble bunch with a feel for country roots. With a brass section, back up singers, and stylish bass player, not to mention steady drummer and curious frontman who took a liking to speaking directly and up close to the audience all ready to play, the unpretentious and thoroughly enjoyable Markús and the Diversion Sessions drove home their passion and dedication to a style undoubtedly influenced by Americana. The band seemed like good friends you could meet at a pub, playing cool songs that reflected life in Reykjavik that are without excessive artistic license. The crowd roared at the conclusion of one number, when a jam exploded and all parts of the group fell came in, lock and step. Thoroughly enjoyable.

 Snorri Helgason – 00:10

A tired audience went home floored and amazed by Snorri Helgason and band. With pedal steel, accoustic guitars, folk-influenced melodies and male/female vocal counterpoint, the group captivated all who listened with a beauty and authenticity that approached a level of professionalism and dignity that can’t be understated. Snorri, who played both in Icelandic and English, got his point across in a manner stated with taste, subtlety and simplicity, using refined songs that demonstrated his fine finger picking ability, rich voice and homespun songwriting. Great crescendos and crashing percussion provided a display of the genuine talent inherent in the band. It truly was a performance to remember.



About the Author

Christopher Czechowicz





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