Iceland Airwaves 2016 Live Review (11/5): asdfhg, Epic Rain and Kelsey Lu


 The electronic, experimental lo-fi duo, asdfhg. played an intriguing show tonight at Harpa Kaldalón. The duo, comprising singer Steinunn Jónsdóttir and Orri Úlfarsson, created an atmosphere of magical simplicity through Úlfarsson’s static beats and Jónsdóttir’s crisp vocals. Jónsdóttir’s voice emphasized each word with pure emotion that could have moved a monster to tears. Although she sang in Icelandic, it was evident that her lyrics held great importance and meaning, and were the focus of the performance.


Jónsdóttir is only 17 years old, but she performed with the maturity of someone twice her age. Having won a 2015 Kraumer Award, Jónsdóttir is already well respected in Iceland, and this was apparent from the audience’s quiet concentration on the show. The duo broke for applause in between songs, but kept their distance from the audience, which was appropriate for this show. Asdfhg. put on a quality performance tonight and it will be exciting to see what’s in store for them for the future.

Epic Rain

Epic Rain is a multi-instrumental underground hip-hop band from Iceland. They played tonight at Harpa Kaldalón to a packed crowd. The instruments in the group included harp, bells, piano, synth, saxophone, and a male and female singer.

What was interesting about Epic Rain’s music was that it combined hip-hop, blues, pop and cabaret together into something that would be appropriate in a number of different settings. Similar to the music of Macklemore and Mashrou’ Leila, Epic Rain’s lyrics and music communicated reflection on social commentary in an enjoyable way.


The highlight of the show was when the female singer came out to sing the chorus in between rap verses. Although somewhat formulaic, this vocal and structural styling appealed among Epic Rain’s orchestrated hip-hop sound. Epic Rain certainly showcased their talent tonight.

Kelsey Lu

Kelsey Lu walked on stage tonight at Harpa Kaldalón, threw her furry jacket on the ground as a rug, and proceeded to play J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G  on her cello while standing. She then transitioned into one of her own pieces, and looped chords and glissandos up and down the fingerboard to create a cello wall of sound.

Lu let her cello sing for her in the beginning of her set, and didn’t start singing herself until the second song. Her beautiful voice was  characteristic of a cello; deep, rich, mournful and passionate. She had the vocal strength of Florence Welch and the sensitivity of Deborah Cox.


Lu’s third song in her set was an incredible cover of Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” Her rendition pushed and pulled the usually pop-driven ballad into a complex, groovy R&B composition. She followed this cover with a personal anecdote about her grandmother who died from Alzheimer’s, and moved the audience to tears with a song she wrote about her, called “Vision of Love.”

Lu closed her set with a song she wrote about the black right movements in the United States, and all over the world. At the last pluck of her cello string, she placed her cello down, picked up her furry jacket, put it on and seamlessly walked off the stage.

About Sarah Matthews

Columbia College Chicago Arts Management student // 98.7 WFMT Exploring Music Intern
This entry was posted in Daily Blog, Iceland Airwaves, Iceland Airwaves 2016, Live Review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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