Navigating a new city is never easy. Especially when it’s foreign. Getting lost is inevitable, but sometimes it can lead to a worthwhile adventure. After having an unfortunate experience with a taxi driver and ending up in an unknown part of Reykjavík, I was lucky enough to stumble across some striking scenery of the city. While the unexpected exploring was fun, I was excited to get back to live music.
Having not released an album since 2013, Lay Low didn’t have new music to share at her late Wednesday night performance at Harpa Norðurljós. Instead, she played new versions of old songs such as “Please Don’t Hate Me” and “Beauty,” a good choice as the live version had a fuller sound that filled the room better than her studio versions have. Lay Low’s personality shined through her performance as she told quirky anecdotes between songs and stopped during the middle of “In The Dead of Winter” as she giggled and explained how the dramatic pause was in fact not the ending.
It was no surprise Vio won the 2014 Icelandic Music Experiments, or that singer Magnús Thorlacius’s was awarded best singer. But it was guitarist Yngvi Rafn Garðarsson that stole the Thursday night show at Harpa Silfurberg. Garðarsson made use of traditional guitar tricks such as pull-offs, harmonics and slides, but also payed tribute to Jimmy Paige’s crowd pleaser by using a violin bow to play his guitar. All the songs have a mellow alternative feel, but each was distantly different witch catchy guitar rifts and vocal hooks.
Ylja‘s Thursday night performance doubled as a release party for their newest material. The new songs, such as “Commotion,” were crafted in a similar fashion to their debut album with a lot of vocal harmonies and dissonant instrumental sounds. Even though their debut album is entirely Icelandic, they gave a good variety of songs in both Icelandic and English. But the band had more talent than just their vocal work. For the final song, lead singers Gígja Skjaldardóttir and Bjartey Sveinsdóttir, walked off stage, giving the well-deserved spotlight to the rest of the band for an instrumental breakdown.