Despite Reykjavík’s constant barrage of rain today, it did all but deter me from exploring the city for new music. Hopping from venue to venue with some rest breaks in between, I was soaking up all I could.
I started out my night of music at the Reykjavík Art Museum. The stage had been left with a fog so thick you had to assume that the stage was actually there. It was clear the next act was going to be a treat simply judging by how the crowd would scream at the crewmembers setting up equipment. As the lights dimmed, Agent Fresco came out on stage and everyone went absolutely wild. Even if this band wasn’t in your musical repertoire, you would be acting as if you were seeing The Beatles in 1964.
Formed in 2008, Agent Fresco comprises Arnór Dan Arnarson (vocals), Þórarinn Guðnason (guitar/piano), Vignir Rafn Hilmarsson (bass/synth), and Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson (drums). Shortly after their formation as a group they won Músíktilraunir, Iceland’s Battle of the Bands. All members are classically-trained musicians, with some specializing in jazz, some in classical music, and with vocalist, Arnór Dan Arnarson, as a classically trained Opera singer.
Blending rock, pop, and hardcore, Agent Fresco managed to create a unique sound and absolutely master it. With Arnarson erupting into his operatic vocals sporadically throughout songs, intensity was created between the music and lyrics, which are sure to leave even the most ambivalent listener moved.
Playing a variety of songs from their 2010 album, A Long Time Listening, Agent Fresco transitioned smoothly between songs and kept the energy running the whole time. At the end of the show the crowd was left on a music high and didn’t want to come down. Chanting “Meira!” (Icelandic for “more”) over and over again, Agent Fresco left a lasting impression.
It would be hard to top the experience of Agent Fresco, but 2010’s Músíktilraunir winners, Of Monsters and Men, were playing across the street at Glaumbar and I had been wanting to see them for a while.
This venue was packed. Literally wall-to-wall there were people and I started to become nervous I would be stuck at the back of the bar for their performance. However, I put on my “Big City Girl” pants and barged through the crowd making it to the very front.
Although the stage was tiny, the seven members occupying it made the best of it and didn’t seem to mind. They played a majority of songs from their recently released album, My Head is an Animal (including their single “Little Talks”) as well as a brand spankin’ new one. Engaging the crowd, OMM frequently had us clap along, yell ‘HEY!’, and sing some ‘la’s’, which provided a much more intimate atmosphere than the Agent Fresco show.
It is obvious why both of these groups have been Músíktilraunir winners, which I have to say, makes me very excited for who the future winners will be.