Iceland Airwaves Day Four (11/7): Beach House, Battles, GusGus (REVIEW)

Today was another day packed with Iceland Adventures! We trekked into the remote countryside where we witnessed spectacular views and sights. Read more about excursions  here. Of course we ended the day immersed in music.

Check out day four’s awesome bands!

Band #1: Beach House @ Harpa Silfurberg 10:10pm 

After a long day of excursions and adventure, Beach House proved to be the best medicine with dreamy pop and indie rock sounds. With their chill vibe floating throughout Silferburg, everyone was in awe of their presence on stage. But their music wasn’t the only thing that put listeners at ease. Lighting was a key element to the show as well. Hypnotic strobe lights, warm colors, and video background scenery amazed and astounded listeners in the crowd.

Every note was perfectly executed and played with purpose. Drums and percussion were consistent and the kind of loud that makes your spectrum vibrate. Lead singer Victoria Legrand swooned the stage with intricate hand moments and gestures as she was clearly into the music. Vocals from both Victoria and the guitarist were spectacular.

Although the group had a stellar performance, the night started off rough for the duo from New England. Microphone and monitor issues kept reoccurring throughout the night. At one point during the middle of the show, guitarist Alex Scally’s monitor completely died and forced the show to be delayed until it was fixed.

Band #2: Battles @ Harpa Silfurberg 11:50pm

No band on the planet right now values musical creation and experimentation than the New York based trio, Battles. Battles’ beautiful and creative experimental rock style shone through tonight as the band wowed the venue packed crowd with focused intensity. The venue at Harpa‘s Silfurberg added to the dramatic vibe the band gave off. Not a single person in the front row was still, everyone was moving their bodies to Battles popping electronic guitar rifts. Production value also added to the show as colorful lights danced across the faces of fans. Battles put on an amazing and unique show with continuous blending of electronic sounds, guitar, and perfect leading percussion. Percussion stole the show and proved to be the heart and rhythm of the group.

One thing that immediately strikes you about their set up is drummer John Stanier’s drum set. An extremely high Zildjian K ride cymbal is placed far above his head, making it more of an effort for him to play it. The cymbal forced him to jump up from his seat to aggressively strike it. It the most  arguably distinctive visual trademark of the band. Battles set was also complete with numerous synths, two dueling synth keyboards for guitarist Ian Williams, and electronic looping and sampling equipment which was heavily used throughout their gig.

The band played the majority of their songs from their new album La De Da Di, which was newly released in September of this year. Battles never spoke or included any vocal quality  in their set but they were not always an instrumental group. Tondi Braxton was Battles frontman and vocalist until 2010 when he left the group to pursue a solo project. Therefore, when the band played earlier songs of theirs in which Braxton was still involved in the band, reedited and sampled loops of lyrics were played in the background.

Band #3: GusGus @ Harpa Silfurberg 1:10am

Icelandic electronic music is making a big break break through. GusGus, an Icelandic electronic quartet, included influences from synth pop, trance and UK garage music. Throughout the gig, sounds began to shift and take on another form. Electronic mingled with soul until quickly jumping to trance and techno, refreshing the energy in the room every so often. GusGus also mixed together different mediums such as lightening and use of visual affects that created a unique mixture of sound and vision. Combined with funky bass, streamlined synths and the intelligent use of technology and art, GusGus absolute torn Silfurberg apart.

GusGus members are: Birgir Þórarinsson (a.k.a. Biggi Veira), Daníel Ágúst Haraldsson & Högni Egilsson (a.k.a. HE).

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