East of My Youth at HARPA NORÐURLJÓS – 8:00pm
East of My Youth is an electro-pop duo from Iceland consisting of Herdís Stefánsdottir and Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir. Accompanying them during this performance was a guitar and synthesizer player, drummer, two backup singers and a tambourine player–Jónsdóttir’s brother. Lead singer Stefánsdóttir owned the stage, dancing along in an animated way that kept energy high throughout the set. Singer and keyboardist Jónsdóttir was dressed in a gold sparkly jumpsuit, suiting their electronic sound and glittering the colorful light show that accompanied their set. The audience was responsive, dancing along, shouting and swaying lighters in the air during the final song upon Stefansdottir’s request. They closed with their newest single, an empowering slower tune that’s appropriately titled “Stronger.” Blowing kisses in the air to Jónsdóttir and the screaming audience, the entire group appeared appreciative and satisfied with their performance as it came to an end. Despite minor hiccups, the songs were well-executed. After one song in the middle of the set, Jónsdóttir said that this was the first time that the band was able to perform the song somewhat correctly, but their electronic soundscapes and Stefánsdóttir’s captivating vocals attracted the audience in such a way that they appeared unphased by minor execution issues.
This is The Kit at IÐNÓ – 9:30pm
This is the Kit was a calm, cozy and intimate performance with a full but mellow audience. With an indie folk style, the group is led by Kate Stables. Stables sings lead vocals and plays both electric guitar and banjo. At one point, she strapped sleigh bells around her ankles to add a different and unique sound. Her songs were soft and flowing, allowing audience members to lightly sway along and get lost in the strong, melodic vocals. Joined by her bandmates Rosalind, Neil, Jamie and Jesse, Stables introduced her band at the beginning and end of the show. She noted that Rosalind, also known as Rozi Plain, was feeling under the weather, asking the crowd to give her an encouraging applause. Stables was modest and appreciative throughout the entire show, thanking her band, the audience and the venue crew repeatedly. Her expression of gratitude formed a positive atmosphere throughout the venue and allowed her music to convey a deeper sense of emotion. This gratitude was returned to Stables by the audience, who applauded and encouraged her throughout the duration of the show. Although the band was not selling This is the Kit shirts, they were selling two LPs and tea towels–the most precious piece of merchandise for a UK-based soft folk group to sell.
Markús & The Diversion Sessions at Gaukurinn – 11:20pm
Transforming from the solo project of Markús Bjarnason in 2008 into its current form in 2011, Markús & The Diversion Sessions is a four-member fusion of indie, alternative and folk rock. Their performance at Gaukurinn channelled their ’60s and ’70s soft rock and folk sounds. Near the end of the set, the band attempted what seemed like a pre-song jam session that just sounded more noisy and disorganized. Markús strummed his guitar quickly and repeatedly while the drums pounded its own random beats, which didn’t blend together as well as the other portions of their set. The rest of their performance was strong, though, with Markús’s vocals rising above the instrumentals and the band’s members vibing together in a way that was both subtle and smooth. Despite the bar scene, the crowd was attentive and responsive, which kept background noise levels low and brought focus to the stage. Lead singer Markús was joking with the crowd, asking in the middle of his set “Don’t you know there are lots of good concerts out there?” His interactions with the audience made this bar scene even more intimate and comfortable, which ultimately helped make the show an overall success.