At Deutsche bar on Friday, the late gigs offered the kind stylistic pileup I’ve come to expect from an Airwaves lineup. Blouse, from Portland, Oregon, played gentle, dreamy songs built around keyboard atmospherics and the sweet murmurs of frontwoman Charlie Hilton. Maybe too gentle, in fact; even the more uptempo numbers felt plodding as the set wore on.
More memorable was Moonface, a/k/a Spencer Krug, the Canadian best known for his work in Wolf Parade. Krug is one of the more distinct singers in modern indie rock, with a quavery, spooked tone. Krug’s backing tonight, as on his recent album, came from the band Sinaii, (mostly) long-haired Finns who looked like they could tear through some metal tunes. In fact, they did anything but, laying down well-manicured drone-beats while Krug wandered the stage, beer in hand, and pondered emotional turmoil. “Heartbreaking Bravery” spoke of a “fox with blood-stained lips,” an eerie image that fit the darkness lurking in the music. At best, the effect was brooding and hypnotic, sort of like getting stoned and watching prime David Lynch.
Reykjavík! blasted along on an entirely different kind of energy. The Icelanders (who include Grapevine editor Haukur Magnússon on guitar and vocals) have augmented their punk-ish attack since I last saw them in 2005, surrounding scream-y bits with snazzy vocal interplay and snippets of brittle white-boy funk. Songs like “Repticon (THE BLOOD),” which was pegged to a stabbing, syncopated “ba-ba-ba”-type refrain, were about nuanced propulsion; the straightforward “Hellbound Heart (LOCUST SOUNDS),” went for anthemic earnestness. The tunes didn’t always distinguish themselves, but the effort never flagged: A recent unspecified illness (and attendant vomiting) didn’t stop lead singer Bóas Hallgrímsson from crowd-surfing and stomping all over, and the entire band looked like it was having vastly more fun than your average Airwaves act.
Dream Central Station closed the night on a sleepier note, playing shoegaze-y tunes that kicked up a nice, full guitar sound but not much to truly grab you. It was tough to surmise which language the male-female vocal team was singing in, but their so-so melodies didn’t particularly make you want to find out. Ah, well — at least the wind had died down.