We Made God: Hail to this Higher Power – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 4, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

 

I remember nearly suffering a mild stroke the first time I saw Iceland’s own We Made God at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival back in 2014. At one point the lead guitarist Arnór Jónasson jumped off stage and started swinging his guitar back and forth in front of my friend Jensyn Lynn Hallett and I as he furiously strummed the strings, smirking a bit as we began squealing with joy. It was as if We Made God (Arnór – Guitar, Biggi – Drums, Maggi – Vox/ Guitar, Stúni – Bass) were all about making violent, cathartic, adrenaline-ridden performances and that spin you into another orbit. I’m just glad this epic encore didn’t spin me face-first into the table of guys below me! We Made God’s brain-bending live performances of math/progressive rock have been recognized by both domestic and foreign media, and their devout fans orbiting around the world can’t wait for the release of their third album next year. As of late 2018, Arnór decided to leave We Made God to focus more time on his role as lead guitarist in VAR (love their sound, see videos below) as well as supporting Maggi’s solo project, Mighty Bear.  With his talent, creativity, and breadth of experience, I’m pretty stoked to see what new direction Arnór is pointing his compass. 🙂  Be sure to check out We Made God, VAR, and Mighty Bear at this year’s Airwaves 2018!

Omotrack: “Why is life equalized, some people just can’t see… Everyone has blind spots except for me” – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 4, 2018)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

It was so awesome to have run into the talented brother duo (Markús and Birkir Bjarnason) front-men of Omotrack at Songhoy Blues (at Reykjavík art museum) only a few hours after catching their last set of Airwaves at the bookstore on Laugavegi. They’ve got such an infectious indie/pop/electro sound that kinda remind me of a funkier version of two Bombay Bicycle Club and Two Door Cinema Club. It’s pretty rare to see synths and brass (trombone, trumpet, saxophone) battling for the spotlight! The trumpet and sax were nailing their harmony parts! I loved all of the tracks in the set, especially the 4 below that I got on video: Hippo Trip (new), Imaginary Mountains, Old Habits, and Blind Spots. I especially love ‘Blind Spots,’ and assume that the lyrics were inspired by their experience of growing up as two Icelandic toddlers in remote village in Ethiopia called “Omo Rate” (which inspired the band name), witnessing disparities between people of different ethnicity and social class:

“People treated differently, due to their ethnicity.. Who can tell wrong from right, and sit back watch people fight… Why is life equalized, some people just can’t see… Life can’t be overpriced… Everyone has blind spots except for me.”

Not able to speak the local dialect of Daasanach or easily blend in, Markús and Birkir relied on each other for friendship, fun and musical entertainment and started creating music together as early as 5 and 3 years old. Now, in their early twenties, the band has put down some strong roots into the Icelandic music scene and recently placed third in Músiktilraunir, Iceland’s annual “Battle of the Bands” for young and emerging talent who are hoping to take their careers to the next level. “We tried to enter two years ago, but we only had two songs,” says lead singer and guitarist Markús. “We had been a band for maybe ten days. Now we have more music, and we feel more comfortable, so we just thought: let’s try this.” I’m so glad they did. Their bronze finish not only earned them a spot at Iceland Airwaves, but also a supporting slot with the contest’s winners, Between Mountains. Can’t wait to see them again at Airwaves this year!

So lucky to run into them later that night!

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Arstíðir: “I’ve been waiting for someone to say, That my patience was worth all the way” – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 3, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

ArstíðirDaníel Auðunsson (Guitar, vocals), Gunnar Már Jakobsson (Guitar, baritone guitar, vocals), Karl James Pestka (violin, viola, electronics, vocals), and Ragnar Ólafsson (piano, baritone guitar, vocals) are well-established in the Icelandic music community, having had two #1 hits in 2008 that put them on the map. After the release of their debut album in 2009, Árstíðir released a second album that was produced/mastered by the super talented Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. The band has already toured 30 countries and it set to tour again once they release their third album (on the way!). With influence of Beck, Paul McCartney, Philip Glass, Neil Young, Takashi Tateishi, Árstíðir finds a home in everyone. I love the violin in the last video that I captured (see below). Feels like it should be in a chase scene in a movie! Make sure to check out their new album ‘Nivalas‘ release just this year!

 

Captain Syrup: Be sure to taste some of this! – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 4, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Be sure to snag of taste of this TASTY TRIO — Ríkharður Sigurjónsson (drums), Björn Heimir Önundarson (bass/trumpet), Kjartan (Cori) Kolbeinsson (guitar) — Captain Syrup any chance you CAN GET. I swear to the heavens you will NOT be disappointed. The electrifying, high-octane SONIC ADVENTURE of this impressive instrumental 3 piece will have you bouncing off the walls in no time. Described by an Icelandic newspaper as “Öfgafunk” (translates in English to “Severe Funk”), Captain Syrup tastes like maddening mix of math rock fused with fast, freaky funk and detonating drum & bass. My head nearly exploded into fireworks when watching Cori slap Björn’s bass while Björn blasted into the trumpet. They absolutely SLAYED their set and were hands down one of my top discoveries at Iceland Airwaves last year! When it comes to Captain Syrup, grabbing a taste with surely MELT YOUR FACE. 😛 ❤

Between Mountains: “Deeper in the city, I feel your face” – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 5, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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What a treat it was to catch this impressive YOUNG duo — Katla Vigdís Vernharðsdóttir (16 years old) and and Ásrós Helga Guðmundsdóttir (14 years old) — at Iceland Airwaves 2017, just 6 months after they won Músíktilraunir, the annual Icelandic “Battle of the Bands.” They call themselves “Between Mountains” because they are both from different fjords (in Westfjords region of Iceland), with a giant mountain between them. Not only do they harmonize beautifully together on vocals (even with mountains in between!), but they incorporate keyboard, xylophone, and accordion into their songs with a capacity that demonstrates proficiency way beyond their years. I’m so glad I got to meet both of them (picture below) after Rythmatik’s last Airwaves show at the Hard Rock Cafe last year. Lucky for us Katla is the sister of  Hrafnkell Hugi Vernharðsson (voal/guitar for Rythmatik), and it was much easier to say hello since I already knew him. What a crazy small beautiful world it is, ESPECIALLY in Iceland. Don’t miss Between Mountains at Iceland Airwaves 2018! ❤

Lucky to meet this impressive duo!

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Rythmatik: “Put my dreams in red balloons, Tie the Knots, Tie the Noose” – Iceland Airwaves (Nov 4, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Rythmatik is a four-piece Icelandic indie rock band consisting of Hrafnkell Hugi Vernharðsson (vocals/guitar), Pétur Óli Þorvaldsson (bass), Valgeir Skorri Vernharðsson (drums), and Árni Freyr (lead guitar). I first discovered Rythmatik when my Solstice/ Airwaves pal Jose Ramos introduced me to Hrafnkell and Petur during Kiriyama family‘s set at Secret Solstice 2017, quickly mentioning that their band won Iceland’s national “Battle of the Bands” (Sigurvegarar Músíktilrauna) back in 2015. I was immediately eager to check out their sound, especially after learning about their influence: The Smiths, Death Cab For Cutie, Manchester Orchestra, and Two Door Cinema Club. Well, the time finally came to see them at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival 5 months later, and man were they AWESOME. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Hrafnkell whip his hair back and forth as he shredded guitar right above the crowd (always sporting his trademark favorite sweater from his Grandmother). I also enjoyed watching Petur and Árni’s bass and guitar jousting and Valgeir‘s hypnotic percussion (he does play back up drums for Sigur rós after all!). Rythmatik’s fun, fast post-rockish guitar riffs will keep you feverishly entertained from start to finish, and you’ll find yourself ticking to a continuous rhythm almost as if you had a “rythma”-tik. 😛  Some of my favorite tracks from their collection are Sleepyhead, LinchPin, Bleed Like a Poet, Death of the Party, and Tiny Knots, and am really enjoying the debut LP they released July 2018. Be sure to check it out! ❤

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Lauren Ruth Ward: “‘Love is not loving’ mama, that’s what Bowie said… Think I’m aggressive? I’m just obsessive. Maybe I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” – Live at The Chapel in SF (May 25, 2018)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

If you haven’t yet seen the volatile, voracious VOCAL VIXEN that is Lauren Ruth Ward​, you best MAKE IT HAPPEN. Many of my favorite LA bands had described her as “truly something else” and a “MUST SEE,” and only NOW (after seeing her last night for the first time at The Chapel​) do I understand why she deserves to be up on that pedestal. With the (1) bluesy rasp and feverish headbanging of Janis Joplin, (2) sultry, seductive sounds of Sia, (3) heavy howls and fairy-like movement of Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine), and (4) lyrical cadence of Courtney Barnett, Lauren is the EPITOME of a TRUE ENTERTAINER. Her killer combination of good looks, memorizing vocals, and “come-hither” demeanor will stop you DEAD IN YOUR TRACKS, and you’ll find yourself swooning more than once throughout the set. She uses her impressive vocal control to deliver salacious, racy lines in songs like ‘Make Love to Myself‘ and ‘Blue Collar Sex Kitten‘ with crackling/panting/heaving undertones (as if on the brink of climax) and a gritty vibrato that provokes the sexual appetite in us all, especially the cougars who shouted out to Lauren with pride: “Mom’s are out TONIGHT!” I’m so glad this provocative powerhouse decided to crawl onto the speaker RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and allow to to capture some bewitching footage (def not camera shy) of her holding us under her spell. She even offered to shake my hand (along with others in the front row) which I found really endearing, and waved attentively at everyone in the crowd who was starring up at her in awe.

One of my favorite moments was when Lauren kicked off ‘Blue Collar Sex Kitten‘ howling “Thought you found Jesus in me while I lied there Fa-Fa-Fa-FAKING” and then later shouts (while looking in the direction of the drummer) “You should let me cut your hair to make you look a little BETTER!” (which is very fitting considering that she is a professional hair stylist). She also opens up about her sexuality: “I’m a dyke, dated guys, ain’t a crime, won’t apologize for my tribe.” Another favorite moment was her delivery of these two lines in ‘Well, Hell,’ the title track of her debut album: “Love is not loving” mama, that’s what Bowie said” and “Think I’m aggressive? I’m just obsessive. Maybe I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” LOVE LOVE LOVE. Her lyric cadence in this one reminds me of Courtney Barnett, which is ALWAYS A GOOD THING. ‘Staff Only,’ ‘Sheet Stains,’ and ‘Sideways‘ are my other favorites, along her her BRAND NEW siiiiiiiick song, ‘Valhalla‘ that has a super catchy chorus and a killer ending: “How did she do it, how did she do it, how did she do it? They all will ASK.” Yaaas. Can’t wait for this bad boy to be released! She also sang a song called ‘Scorpio Season‘ (not on her EP) which made me grin ear-to-ear as I thought to myself “OF  Of COURSE Lauren is a SCORPIO… The most passionate and sexual of all the signs.” I can definitely can SPOT MY OWN. 😛

A true knack for audience allure, Lauren Ruth Ward is building an intense fan base with her 60’s Rock n’ Role revival and this attention is only going to spread like wildfire over the next year. She makes it known in her title track (‘Well, Hell‘) that she is grateful for being heard (“I didn’t mean to make your head spin, I have a lot to say. I have a lot to say. I have a lot to say. Thank you for listening to what we have to say“), but WE are grateful for her voice, and her message. She is a MUST SEE, and I urge you to see her whenever she comes through your town. Just look for the gorgeous “Flower Child” in rainbow vintage pants and a rad, rainbow fringe.  ❤

Not only was I stoked to have met Lauren after the show (pic above) and to have learned that she was also a fellow East Coaster who moved out here about 3 years ago, but I was EVEN MORE STOKED to later learn that Lauren’s sister (Sarah) went to University of Maryland with my good friend Tony Awojoodu and is married to one of his close friends, Sasha. CRAZY SMALL WORLD!

Videos from the show:

“You’ve got a sign on your heart that says “Staff Only”. A Band-Aid life, you’re just staying high and lonely. Go on and treat me bad. Go on and treat yourself bad.” HELL YAAAAAAS. Such a fucking siiiick track. I love when she laugh “HA HA HA!” right after belting “The devil on your shoulders got a chip on his shoulder – ain’t that funny?”

“Got me a job and planned real good. But all the planning didn’t go as it should. I was distracted by the people walking faster than me. I’m going sideways. I’m going sideways.”

“Buddy, I don’t need you I can make love to myself. If you think I’m lonesome then you’re lying to yourself… I am not your honey. I don’t need nobody for nothing. I’ve got myself for loving. I’ve got myself for loving. I am not your honey and I don’t need nobody for nothing, no. I’ve got myself for loving and I don’t need nobody.”

Lauren’s siiiiiiiiick new song, ‘Valhalla.’ I love the enigmatic ending: “How did she do it, how did she do it, how did she do it? They all will ASK.” Yaaas. Can’t wait for this bad boy to be released!

“You were appointed the master of control. It won’t give you self control, you’re only getting older.”

“Thought you found Jesus in me while I lied there faking… Contemplation, admiration, salivation, masturbation : four – step Friday night. I’m a dyke, dated guys, ain’t a crime, won’t apologize for my tribe.” WOW.

Of COURSE Lauren is a SCORPIO! The most passionate and sexual of all the signs… Glad to also be one. xx

“Love is not loving” mama, that’s what Bowie said… Think I’m aggressive? I’m just obsessive. Maybe I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” OMG I LOVE THIS. Her lyric cadence in this one reminds me of Courtney Barnett, which is ALWAYS A GOOD THING.

 

 

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