aYia‘s frontwoman wandered around the stage of Harpa Silfurberg hooded in black while her bandmates stood off to the side with their respective laptops and drum pads. It was a tired intro, if not somewhat pretentious, but a technical difficulty set the show on track.
The frontwoman broke her first smile and acknowledged the crowd to laughs. The break was awkward, but she became a different performer afterwards. She smiled and laughed and danced fluidly on stage with the music. Processed beats tapped sharply across the venue and enveloping bass synths shook the room. The music was interesting and entertaining, but hardly different from the electronic sounds made popular by FKA Twigs years ago. The popping drum pads, the harsh percussion, it was nothing untouched by Twigs before.
The set took a shoegazey turn to meet the sounds of Blonde Redhead. Her voice was chilling and cruised in contrast over the sharp percussion and beats, but the melodies were almost identical to Blonde Redhead songs that came before them. aYia brings an interesting sound to Iceland’s scene, and maybe a new one for the country, but the band does not shock on a national level. All reservations aside, aYia’s live show was genuine, its members fully likeable, and songs fully danceable.
Is it appropriate to play so loud in a church? Mugison seared through a quick but jam-packed set in the similarly jam-packed Fríkirkjan church. The environment was funny but fitting. The hard-rocking drums and guitars blended well with the boom of the church’s acoustics.
Frontman Örn Elías Guðmundsson welcomed the crowd and announced they would be playing the “hits, some new ones, some hits again, a beautiful, and then some hits.” They did, and the crowd was the most receptive in Airwaves so far. Even seated in a church, there was a uniform head bob throughout each of Mugison’s perfected rock tracks. While the “hits” brought an obvious enthusiastic reception, the “new” ones, though blander and somewhat tacky, brought welcoming head nods and smiles from the crowd.
The band was tight. The songs were blasted and played with an unmistakable confidence and ease. Though Mugison’s rock sound may be predictable, or dated, or somewhat cliché, they know how to put a rock song together and perform it wildly well.
With a quick and promising rise that followed the release of Frankie Cosmos’ latest album, Next Thing, frontwoman Greta Kline was at ease in a venue where she could be unknown again. Her performance was full of quirks, whether that be ironically laying on the ground during “Outside With The Cuties,” or her series of guitar solo breaks that were nothing more than her picking around carelessly. Without the usual audience of dedicated fans she has seen in the states on her current tour, Kline performed the songs somewhat for herself, as if she were just sitting in the bedroom writing them.
In a short 40-minute set, Frankie Cosmos managed to pack in most of Next Thing, fan favorites from Zentropy, and even an older song off her self-released affirms glinting. Though the band is constantly morphing due to changing touring members, they keep getting tighter regardless. Kline led the band in fluid tempo changes, live arrangements have gotten more ambitious, and even some three-part harmonies were added. But what was most inspiring about Kline’s performance was her rejection of becoming an indie pop star. She does not embrace the limelight, she simply accepts it and remains herself. She joked around, screwed up on guitar, and took nothing too seriously. A Frankie Cosmos show is refreshing among even the best bands whose egos have gotten a bit too high.