Faktorý will always be Grand Rokk to me, and not because I’m particularly nostalgic for the good ol’ days of 2004, but rather because despite the rebranding, Faktorý still has the same feel of the kind of a club you expect to have a decent live experience of a mid-sized band. There’s a modest stage, plenty of floor space, and a bar in the back. Exactly the kind of venue you need for an intimate setting of rock and roll.
This night certainly delivered, with acts that more or less complemented each other well, although some shined through better than others.
Kicking things off was Good Moon Deer, a duo comprised of a live drummer and a Macbook musician. Now, if you’re going to go electronic, you have to make up for the fact that visually there’s not much to look at but a dude standing behind a laptop by delivering some powerful and compelling music. I did really want to like them – the drummer was probably the highlight of the two, where the actual rhythm of the song was hinted at subtly as he danced beats around it on cymbals and toms. I found myself following what he was doing much more than what was emanating from the Mac, and not just because of his percussive talent. The actual music that came from the laptop was a series of diluted, pastel-coloured synth washes that didn’t really convey any emotion at all, nor was it particularly innovative in the sounds that were created. Banks of whole notes floated over the heads of the crowd like a dull fog, while the drummer breathed what life he could into their songs. This was especially disappointing seeing how electronic music can, in theory anyway, create any sound imaginable. To do that, it helps to have some imagination. I think the Mac player needs to further explore what can be done on a laptop, and put more effort into drawing out the potential.
Following this was the always-fun Hermigervill. This is a guy known for straight-up party music, and he was in great form this night. The crowd filled in before the stage, and he seemed visually delighted at their encouragement. He worked the crowd flawlessly, at times reminding me of a deranged circus ringmaster, minus the top hat and bullwhip (which certainly would’ve spiced up the live act, but hey, you can’t have everything). Hermigervill is known for his covers, interestingly enough. That’s pretty ballsy, especially for an electronic musician, but if you’ve ever heard his cover of Grýlurnar’s “Sísí” you’ll know what I’m talking about. In much the same way that Van Halen improved The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” by doing a better job of conveying its essence, Hermigervill took this choppy, quirky tune and made it a bass-slamming dance hit. If you see one electronic cover artist in your lifetime, make it Hermigervill.
You’ll have to forgive me for finding forced irony a boring gimmick. I got into a long conversation with a journalist from New York about this subject between sets, and we agreed – liking things ironically is tired. Why should you hedge your bets about the things you enjoy? Just like them, or don’t. Sometimes irony can be so forced, though, that it’s hard to distinguish it from sincerity. Much was the confusion that arose when Sisy Ey hit the stage. The ’80s coifs, the shoulder pads, the robotic posturing – they looked like pretty much every New Wavey pop band to stumble through MTV in 1983, leaving a trail of mousse and zipper jackets in their wake. As my new friend put it about halfway through the set, it was music that said “OK, you’re wasted: here’s your soundtrack”. I couldn’t have put it better. It was competent party music that will keep you dancing, even if you’re not really paying attention to every note they’re playing. But why would you? Sisy Ey aren’t on stage for you to sit politely with your hands folded neatly in your lap as you close your eyes and try to visualize the notes they aren’t playing – they’re on stage for you to see the lights of the club flashing through your closed eyelids, to pump your fist as you hold your drink with your other hand, and dance.
If I had my way, it would have been Hermigervill the whole night. This is an act perfectly suited for the no-nonsense, bar-and-dance floor combo of Faktorý, and as satisfied as the crowd seemed after his set, they probably would’ve wanted it that way, too.