It was a very rainy day two here in Reykjavík. I spent the afternoon around the city doing some interviews for my upcoming radio stories that will air after we return to Chicago. I spoke with some really kind people for both my story on tourism rooted environmental issues in Iceland and my story on divorce in Iceland vs. The United States. I took the local bus to a few of the interviews, which is always a fun way to really get to know a new city. Once I finished up with that I wandered a bit stopping into different off venues before spending the majority of my evening at Fríkirkjan, a beautiful church venue across the street from the lake.
The first artist who opened the evening was Icelandic vocalist Kristin Anna a little after 8 PM, with a third of the church filled. She played a solo hour set of beautiful classical piano accompanied by her quirky high octave voice. Her songs were easygoing and she played barefoot. The tone of her voice however made her words hard to understand. She had a nice performance but she began to lose the interest of the crowd. She had quite the exit as she ended, as she slipped on her heels, put on her baseball hat, and walked out the front doors.
Next on came Mirel Wagner at 9 PM, a singer-songwriter who was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Finland. Her performance was also solo, but with much more success. Many people came to see her play and filled the majority of the church. Her songs combined her deep, soulful voice with acoustic guitar. She successfully mixed gothic lyrics with an easy folk sound, making beautiful, simple melodies. As someone in the crowd said to her in-between songs, she was lovely. Her lyrics were amazing like poetry, they spoke of love and mortality. She described the loneliness of the moon, and played a breathtaking show full of gentle, raw emotion. When she ran out of time for her last song, the crowd insisted she stayed to continue.
At around 10:15 PM Agent Fresco took the stage. An extremely popular Icelandic band, Agent Fresco consists of four members. The church became packed full, people sat in the aisles and filled the balcony. Their set was entirely acoustic, which totally contrasted from their usual rock sound. Two violinists, a violist and a cellist accompanied them. They absolutely nailed it, they filled the show with enthusiasm and passion. The dynamics were phenomenal and the acoustics of the space were astounding. The lead singer, Arnór Dan Arnarson, told personal stories throughout the set of his recent experiences with anger, violence, and loss. He explained how he wrote a song completely from his mother’s words and ended the performance with a piece dedicated to the memory of his father. It was very emotional, both Arnarson and the audience were left in tears. The show ended in a complete standing ovation.