so yes there was a gig i went to last week. In particular the gig that was supposed to be played at the end of May, but got cancelled due to the Grimsvotn eruption. The late starting time for the gig was even enough for me to write a rather whiny column piece about late gig opening times.
And this gig was no different, but as i was on a late shift the following day, it wasn’t too bad actually. Funnily enough, when i got there just after 10pm, the place was mostly full and SIN FANG was actually into their first song. Unbelievable eh? An actual gig starting on time in downtown Reykjavik.
So i settled into my preferred spot to watch the aforementioned openers. Now Sin Fang are an enigmatic and perplexing prospect to me. Their last album, “Summer Echoes” (from which most of the tracks from their set were taken from), while good in places, seemed to suffer from a lack of flow and focus, as if all the components were haphazardly put together while blindfolded. But i certainly wasn’t getting this from the band on Tuesday, as all the musical parts seemed to fit and complement each other much better in a live setting.
At the front of it was Sindri sigfússon, Mr Sin Fang, himself. Sporting a world-weary hangdog look and a rather fetching headband (if a film were made of his life, he would definitely be played by a mid 70s Al Pacino) , he certainly doesn’t look like a conventional pop star. But he seemed relaxed, almost playful, as he managed to get some laughs from the crowd with some banter about Ghostface Killer amongst toher things.
But the real force of the band was the drummer, Maggi. A shuffling, lumbering bear-like figure, Maggi gave the sound that much-needed “oomph” that was missing from the songs recorded version, turning them from lo-fi pop-by-numbers, into the rousing indie epicness that the likes of Dove and Arcade Fire have pretty much written the rule book on. this was certainly evident on the track “Nothing”, a simple, stirring tune that certainly had head bobbing at the end. All in all, a much better performance than what i was expecting.
It appeared to be the case that the rhythm sections were definitely the main propulsers fo tonight’s music, none more evident that with the headlining act CARIBOU. People who were familiar with Dan Snaith’s psychedelic electronic workouts from his last album “Swim”, certainly got more than they bargained for when he appeared with a full backing band as the delved into his back catalogue. As well as tracks from “Swim”, the band played stuff from previous albums which owe a lot more to Krautrock and Psychedelic pop than dance music.
And Snaith marshalled his band mates effectively to the changes in sound all the while playing numerous instruments. As a band they were tight. VERY tight. So tight, it almost felt like they would have squeezed any spontaneity from their playing and you would be just treated to a straight work through of the album tracks. But ironically, this tightness was essential when Snaith joined the drummer on a second drum set, for tracks like “Bowls”. This was when the music upped a notch as they built up an impressive beat wall of rhythm, lending the track to some buzzing freak out endings. As the reached the final end of set with “Odessa” the energy radiating from the band was emphasised by the huge amounts of white strobe lighting that was strafing the building. A final encore performance of the immense “Sun” and that was it, game over. Even though people weren’t literally bouncing off the walls (it was a school night, at the end of the month so people weren’t really partying too hard), everyone seemed energized by Snaith and his compadres.
In the end i´m rather glad i went to see Caribou. the live music is meticulous, neat, uncluttered and displayed a pressured, condensed power in the way they gave off their energy. the music for edgy scientists (which, coincidentally, Dan Snaith is!).
Pics by the lovely Alísa Ugla Kalyanova for the Reykjavik Grapevine. You can see more live action HERE.