Iceland Airwaves Review: Kaelen Mikla, Joycut, and Sisy Ey (Review)

Rain fell again over Reykjavík, which I’m learning is nothing new. Even with a surprising heat wave (keep in mind this is about 46 degrees), the weather made for an absolutely dreary day. Inside the hotel and avoiding the rainy afternoon, I experimented in the art of producing audio in a closet. This art form is one that should be appreciated for its asking of flexibility and determination. Coming out of my den of work and well sound proofed closet, I immersed myself in the Iceland Airwaves scene, but not before I snagged some Domm Kha from Núðluskálin.

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The women of Kælan Mikla filled the small room of Gaukurinn with emotional screams and articulated poetry over repetitive instrumentals. Singing the chants of powerful Icelandic poetry, Laufey Soffía Þórsdóttir conveyed her lyrics in raw passion. Her voice boomed through the crowd even with her mousy demeanor. The repetitive nature of the

keyboard played by Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir became the backdrop for the poetry punk pieces. Through intense body movements and thrusts of the bass, Margrét Rósa Dóru- Harrysdóttir brought a deep spell of passion to her mesmerizing performance. Kælan Mikla is a performance to watch in itself. Aside from their passionate instrumentation and lyrical slams, the bands moves about the stage as rhythmic ghosts. Turning her back to the audience several times, Þórsdóttir would step away from the mic in between verses and songs, lifting her hands in a prayer like position to the top of her head. The performance of Kælan Mikla brought a goth revival in the electronic and punk genre.

Joycut took the night at Gaukurinn into a different direction after the emotional display of Kælan Mikla. With dueling drummers, Gael Califano and Nicola Maccarinelli, the two fought for the spotlight in their drum lines. The two were separated on stage and rhythmically by their third member, Pasco Pezzillo. Pezzillo flung his hands against the keyboard in each song, running the keys as though they were the vocalist of the band. Through horrifying voiceovers, Joycut started each song with audio clips that confusingly contrasted their upbeat electronic vibe. In their pounding dance beat laid the combination of sounds as though tribal had mixed with house music. Even though the music was filled with energy and uplifting sounds, the trio of men had no connection to each other or the crowd. Seemingly, most of the crowd remained still throughout the show. Spending the entire set quiet hurt their performance. The silence created a confusion on where one song ended and another began and excluded new listeners from being able to search for a song they liked the most. The bands anti-climatic performance with each other and the audience makes it better to listen to their music from the comfort of home.

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Friðfinnur Oculus’ DJ techniques set the perfect transition for the three unique sisters of Sísý Ey. The electronic squad brought a new perspective to live house music. As the three vocalists, Elín, Elísabet and Sigga Eyþórsdóttir, sang in harmonic unison, they split and imitated the usual techniques made by backup tracks in their live vocals. The skill shown through their capability to continue their own harmonic parts during each song brought the typical DJ mix style to life. Each vocalist followed perfect time, making the songs seem as flawless as they would have been produced. While the voices meshed well together, each had their own individuality to their tone. The audience came to life when Sísý Ey broke into their “Ain’t Got Nobody” and created a cohesive dance party in Gamla Bíó. Not only was the energy persistent in their vocals and the tracks following their lead, but also through the band’s ability to connect with the crowd. As each sister took a divided part of the stage, they would interact, dance and sing with the crowd in front of them, personalizing the apathetic genre of house music.

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