Yeah, so Sindri Eldon and myself went to cover the finals of the annual Icelandic battle of the unsigned bands, MUSIKTILRAUNIR. And our report is now up and online for you all to go and read!
Man it seemed like everybody got some shit for what happened at this event. Our poor editor got quite a few complaints from people and the organisers (How Dare we say that some of the bands were crap!), while some of the judges got brickbats as well (How dare they vote an electronic act as the winner!). Hey remember guys, it was music that was the winner, right?
So in the end, Sindri and myself railed at the winner, SAMARÍS, for two reasons. One, we just didn’t think that their performance or the music they were making warranted them winning it, and two, the singer was already in a well-known band (she is Jófríður from the band Pascal Pinon) which kind of defeated the whole purpose of the event really. Now I’ve already been into this with at least one member of the group about all of this and our opinions, and I’m not really inclined to go back there. but i did pick up two interesting bits of info about all of this.
Firstly, how did they win? Well apparently the judging is done by a points system that tallies up points according to your performance (usually quality of song, performance, key instruments, singing, etc). But your total score is taken from both the final AND the semi final. By all accounts the performance of Samarís in the semi final was head and shoulders above the other bands playing and was voted accordingly. This actually helped a lot with their scores in the final.
Secondly, i also found out that there isn’t actually a rule that bars a band if one of their members has been in another known band. Apparently it’s just the band itself that has to be unknown. Of course everyone i spoke to did admit that this flies against the spirit of the thing. I mean, whats to stop a band with a couple of members from Retro Stefsson, or the drummer from sudden Weather Change entering? Maybe that rule should be tightened for next time to make things clearer.
In the end the original article had to be chopped by half due to some of our more risqué comments (references to crack and Ketamine, plagiarism and Rick Wakeman for example). But here are some final thoughts on the bands from my shattered memory flakes….
PRIMAVERA - Decent start to the concert, with lots of heavy 90′s style alt-rock although it was a little uninspiring. I didn’t think that the lead singer was that good in that she reminded me of Taylor Momsen (as in someone made up to look alluring, edgy and sexy, but not really pulling it off). Sindri liked her nonchalant style on the other hand, although i was surprised to find that he didn’t even know who Taylor Momsen was! Man needs to brush up on his useless pop culture references. The guitarists were very good however. One in particular had half the stage to himself and was working it relentlessly doing that professional “drunken Kung Fu monkey” lurching style. A strong start.
MY FINAL WARNING - Weezer’s “In the Garage” made flesh. Fair play to them to making the final, but compared to what had happened before, there was no way they were going to win. Four dudes who had spent some time in a garage making some ROCK tunes and living the dream. We’ve all been there. I was laughing so much at the first song, as it had the brilliant chorus “the voices in my HEEEEAAAAD!” again and again. WILD STALLYNS! the kid with the Gibson explorer guitar looked at times like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a juggernaut.
SÚR - Started off weakly but came on a bit strong by the final song. The comparisons with the lead singers voice and Brian Molokos from Placebo was evident. Slightly blues based first song. Vague post punk for the final song. Not bad, but we were really surprised when they got second place.
SAMARIS - Have said all i needed to say on this.
ASKUR YGGDRASILS - Loud, nasty folk metal. The singer was a really terrifying sight. Bald, head, MASSIVE beard and sleeveless denim jacket on a bare torso. Oh and there was the smeared lambs blood as well. Liked these guys a lot, but Sindri was right about the drummer needing to tighten up though. Was just managing to cover the basic beat. He was the Tony McCarroll of metal. But they should go far, especially if they gig with the likes of Skálmöld
MURRK - A very strong band. The Balkan beats and Progrock (king Crimson) reference was mentioned, but it wasn’tmentioned how seamless they blended the styles. One song started off all avant pop, before becoming tight seething prog rock before getting all Klezmer. Wasn’t a fan of the singer’s voice, but again Sindri disagreed, saying that he liked how his “pop” voice went against the heavy multilayered music. Oh and the drummer and bass was incredibly tight and powerful, which you really don’t see that often for these types of band. Also found out that they normally do 15 minute jams instead of songs, so they had to do some really reworking of their material to enter. Really should have won.
FOR THE SUN IS RED - Was not really that good in the end, and much of this rested with the singer. The music was rather Jangly poppy indie stuff, but the singer was jumping and lunging around almost with a “some at me Bro!” stance, like he was at a Black Flag concert or something. I think i also mentioned something about dancing while being on crack for 4 days, but that never got in the article in the end. It was as if he was in another band that played punk or hardcore and told to be on stage at 5pm, only to turn up at 5:15pm and sing with another band. It just felt so wrong. Which is a shame as Sindri noted that his lyrics were not that bad. shame really.
THE WICKED STRANGERS - Like Murrk, they went through several different genres in a song, but weren’t able to pull it off as well and so the music felt disjointed and unfocused. One song started off like a scott Walker 60′s tune, then went a bit Emo, before going full on metal. At least the lead singer made the effort. He had a preening, jittery, taut demeanour which did seem to suit the music they were doing. He also touched his hair 254 times in one song and was a bucket of sweat by the end of their set. Damn good frontman in other words
JOE AND THE DRAGON - Man, one of the most jaw droppingly, toe curlingly awful music displays i’ve ever heard. They were BRILLIANT!! Let me explain. JATD were OTT kitsch synth pop that stole the templates from all the greats (Duo. Singer – hyper emotive, eyeliner, shiny spangly clothes, gender confusion, falsetto show tunes. Keyboard player – Bloke, still unsure as to why he has to unbutton his shirt to the waist. Big hair. Double the singers size). And when they performed, they just laid it ALL out there and as a result had more showbiz in them than nearly all the other bands combined. They got the biggest cheer of the night and it was a complete scandal that they got NOTHING from the judges on the night. For shame!
POSTARTICA - One of the much stronger acts of the evening. Man that bass and guitar sounded impressive. And the singer was also not too bad as well. The songs didn’t quite have that craftsmanship to match their sound. At one point i think their last song sounded veeeery suspiciously like a recent Agent Fresco song (i.e. – it was). I saw that the drummer from Agent Fresco was there, so i assume he was taking notes and possibly making a call to his lawyers. But besides that, they were a very good band. Could go very far.
VIRTUAL TIMES - Nope,really didn’t like these guys at all. screeching keyboard led jazzy soul funk from the 80′s that really should have stayed there.I know that liquid funk and other assorted 80′s jazz sound have been appropriated by the likes of Dâm-Funk and Hudson Mowhawk, but this just felt like a bunch of old duffers trying to jam it maaaan. Mentioned that this reminded me of these music shows that they would show on Sunday nights at 3am on UK TV in the early 90′s and would often be hosted by Rick Wakeman, where he would introduce some jazz funk band that you’d never heard of playing live at Osaka, Japan, in 1982. It would crush my soul every time i chanced upon it. Same here.
So that’s it really. Oh one other thing. The prize givers, Egill Olafsson and Jón Gnarr should be ashamed at trying to turn their 90 second slots into something all about themselves instead of it being about the bands/musicians. When Olafsson hogged the limelight as the Singer for the The Wicked Strangers received his prize for best singer and never let him get a word in edgeways, i honestly wanted to slap a plank of wood across his head. Stop trying to leech of their success! And Jón Gnarr with his “do you want to hear a song?” wasn’t much better either.
But fuck it, it’s all done and dusted for another year. Overall it was a lot better than i expected, but I’m sure I’m probably barred for life from attending another event like this again. HAHAHAHA!