Sóley @ Fríkirkjan
Sóley so-old out the Fríkirkjan church. The line was down the street and inside, most could not see as the local soul vocalist sang her new music to her best fans: the locals. Those who could not see the show imagined it in their heads—people were staring into space, letting the music take over their mind and feeling the music mentally and emotionally.
Sóley’s child-like voice—which works well with her instruments—balanced out the music and created a feeling of being on the ocean in warmer weather than it is here now. She explored different ranges, physically and vocally. The last song had her down in a huddle for a bit, growing as the music did.
Like several Icelandic artists, Sóley has her musical fingers dipped into many projects. She is part of Seabear and Sin Fang. Inspired by big names Sigur Rós and Múm, Sóley plays acoustic, delicate pop music as a solo act. She studied piano and composition at the Icelandic Arts Academy in 2007 and during that time got over her fear of singing too close to the mic with her other bands. Her fear was put to rest with her first solo EP in 2010 called Theater Island. She has been steadily releasing new music since then and gained lots of fans in Europe, but her loyals showed up last night to support her music. Icelanders have a strong music community that because of the immense talent pool and the small population size, everyone can be part of and each get some attention and explore their artist side.
TORRES @ Gambla Bíó
Brooklyn musician TORRES, Mackenzie Scott, has been active in the feminist pop scene in the U.S. for the last few years, gaining recognition from NPR, Rolling Stone and Paste. Her new album Three Futures—produced by PJ Harvey’s Rob Ellis—is about exploring the body positivity and how it can be incorporated into music and focus on acceptance, growth and using it to be happy and positive. She says it is her most personal album yet, and its 10 songs on this theme with TORRES’ wide-ranging vocal performance and confident, poetic lyrics that reflect modern culture surrounding women right now.
Wearing a sports bra and her normal black suit attire, TORRES took to the stage with the kind of energy she’s expected to have: a high one. She switched between two guitars with a danced routine throughout the show and added her unique touch for which she is so loved: the theatrical facial cues and immense vocal diversity. She screamed, sang tenor, sang falsetto and even rumbled; Scott has it all and wasted no time getting into the jewels of her talented treasure chest, playing with vigor, emotional range and enunciated, descriptive lyrics—the other highlight of the artist, as well as the jittery dance moves she showed off with her guitar.
Her band, which was Kamon on guitar and a small midi synth, Dominic on the drums and Erin Manning on keyboard and backup vocals had a solid mesh of communication of head nods and smiles. Their connection was simple but visible and fueled a full performance let people feel the vulnerability yet confidence of Three Futures.
MAMMÚT @ Gambla Bió
Right after TORRES ended, the crowd at Gambla Bió inched even closer to the front in anticipation for Mammút. Some sat on the ground and waited, proving the Icelandic band’s popularity among their people. The venue was to capacity and streams of people kept rolling in. The rock-punk group has been the hype this year with their new album Kinder Versions, and even their off-venue Airwaves show was packed.
Mammút gained national attention with their third album Komdu til mín svarta systir in 2013, for which they won the Icelandic Music Awards for best album and were ranked No. 1 in all major newspapers in Iceland. Their song “Salt” was also awarded as best song of the year, and it currently has more than 219,000 plays on Spotify. It focuses more on English songs and their influence of the American music culture; their new music mixes their Icelandic music background as they enter a new era in their career. The band is made up of Alexandra Baldursdóttir, Andri Bjartur Jakobsson, Arnar Pétursson, Ása Dýradóttir and Katrína Mogensen, who writes the lyrics.
Morgensen, who goes by Kata and is the vocal power of the group, threw her natural spin of dance moves that resembled nature’s elements fire and water very theatrically. She also made lasting eye contact with her fans in the front many times and made a connection with them; this subtle gesture grabbed the audience and further created one joined group during the show, like their was no stage divider. Her energy was so high that in between songs, she tried to speak to the audience and thank them for coming, but she was so winded that it was a strain for both her and the fans.
Most of the set focused on singles from Kinder Versions, like the title track and “We Tried Love.” There was so much fervor coming from the mostly-female powerhouse, which gives so much focus on its female leads while the men (on the drums and guitar) are not center to the image—but nonetheless integral members.
The only criticism was the rush of the set. After the band walked off promptly on schedule, the crowd yelled for an encore in Icelandic, but it was clear they were not coming back. Mammút would have roared the crowd to higher peaks if they had more time and could play more of their older, Icelandic music.