UMTBS open one of Harpa’s most interesting line ups this year. The band come across like a chaotic version of The Killers if Brandon Flowers was raised on a diet of Tiny Tim, Eddie Argos and prescription uppers. They should have kept their original name though: Ultra MegaTechnobandið Stefá might be a mouthful but anything beats an acronym.
The music is a beautiful mess of art rock, soft metal and conceptual dips into rave and techno. It’s delivered with such gusto and couldn’t-give-a-fuck-ness that I’m convinced three songs in that they simply must play at my wedding. Or failing that, my funeral. A trio of backing vocalists appears at one point to deliver a deathly baritone echo behind singer Siggi’s hyperactive motions. The faithful UMTBS fanboys love it and they’re rewarded with a visit from the charismatic frontman before the band clear off and let For A Minor Reflection bring the serious.
While I despise the words “post-rock,” my issues with that very “genre” come from a different place. Indulgence and guitars and all that “epic” shit that tends comes alongside the Nordic flavour of post-rock are fine when the listener is kept in mind…but that’s not really what it’s about, is it? Thankfully For A Minor Reflection continue to surprise at every turn. This is the third time I’ve seen them and there’s an ever growing. dynamic between each musician that bounces naturally off the crowd and an intrinsically work-in-progress sound that’s never dull or lulling. A short set tonight is surprisingly satisfying too – maybe Sigur Rós should adapt a six songs/no encore rule?
Agent Fresco have a drummer with awesome hair. There is a British band called Yuck who also have a drummer with awesome hair too but they have a bass player with a fringe and a frown who looks like she could kick my ass. Agent Fresco have a bass player wearing the kind of v necked dry-clean only white T-shirt and pulling moves that would get him killed in my home town. Their singer’s head is shaved. I don’t have a problem with this but neither he nor white t shirt skinny boy are using their respective forms or lack of hirsuteness to maximum impact.
For me, Agent Fresco is all about drummer boy and his mad beautiful hair:
- I love this guy.
- He is Agent Fresco’s most valued player.
- He should get his own spin off show.
That’s literally all I can tell you about Agent Fresco aside from their excellent coordinated lighting shit and the point where they used the phrases “there were some technical issues” and “this is a new song”. To be fair, the new song was the best thing they played but did sound like a Coldplay album track with too much genre anguish. I admire their dedication and their pained facial expressions.
Apparat Organ Quartet have an amazing drummer and three guys with massive fucking synths that veer from a novelty glitch to a hefty shrill. They have never been (nor will ever be) a band I can appreciate on record but the same can be said for a lot of music where the defining motif is so disarmingly unique/oblique.
Eschewing any elements of po-facedness tonight, the foursome shoot surrealism and a touch of humour through every song, gesture, crunch and grind. There’s a workmanlike pleasure in it all and the entire room seems to fall for it with feverish devotion.
Oh Goat. You had me at hello. Actually you had me at he point where you walked on and shook a feathered tambourine in my face but let’s not split hairs here.
The spectacle of the Swedish collective has swept through the live music scene these last few years leaving an impressive word-of-mouth trail behind it. Tonight they begin by dividing the room into the gently, ponderously nodding and the maniacally shit-losing. By the time they’re repeating the “boy you’d better run to your momma now” mantra, the latter are near a feverish collapse and the band could probably keep this up for days (I’d like to imagine they wear these elaborate get ups to day jobs yeh?)
Of course it’s the performance as much as the music that makes them a superlative live experience and the band’s visuals perfectly channel their freak outs and insane jams. It’s a good enough warmer for Canada’s finest, Fucked Up, who alternate gushing praise for this glorious country neatly into their incredibly awesome set. “[Iceland] is like Nova Scotia and Victoria had a child but with a Scandinavian design”, frontman Damian tells us.
They remain one of the best live bands you’ll ever see this century. Damian is buoyant, involved, emotional and giving everything to the music, the crowd, the night. We all get covered in beer. He gets his neck cut open. I wake up today with bruises on my thigh and back, linked by sense memory to when they played “I Hate Summer” and “Queen of Hearts”.
Apparently Björk went to see Omar Souleyman instead. She made the wrong choice.