Nothing feels better after a long week of work than soaking in hot tub, so it was a great surprise to learn that we were spending the morning at the Blue Lagoon. It’s strange to think that even when it’s forty degrees outside, the naturally heated water at the lagoon is steaming and warm enough for people to actually sit outside in the water. But in the water, the air temperature isn’t even noticed. Although walking back and forth from the locker room was unpleasantly cold.
Since Sunday night was the last day of Airwaves, we decided to check some shows at Húrra and Gaukurinn. Of the four shows we caught last night, only one really stuck out to me. So far, most of the bands I’ve seen have been soft rock or singer-songwriters who play in small and more intimate shows. I never would have thought I’d like an electric band like Ghostigitalbut they were a pleasant surprise. Unlike a lot of electronic bands I’ve heard in the past, there was enough creativity in the songs to make them distinguishable from each other. The visual aspect of the show was great too with the light shows and dancing.
The week has come to an end and our time in Iceland is wrapping up. Monday will be spent putting together our final radio documentary. We have all been working hard on getting our individual pieces together and I am looking forward to seeing everything we’ve done this semester come together.
Saturday morning started off with a soak in what could be considered an eighth wonder of the world: the Blue Lagoon, a geothermic pool full of misty blue mineral water, heated from the inner earth. Icelanders say the water has healing powers: It was clear that the rumors were true as my head and body aches from the previous long night dissipated. The pools were surrounded by volcanic rock and Iceland’s rugged stone scenery accompanied by nearly blistering winds, but we found shelter in the natural hot tubs.
Just Another Snake Cult played three shows at Iceland Airwaves 2014, and after catching their last show at Kaffibarrin at 5 o’clock p.m. on Saturday night, the audience was bummed out to see them go after almost four days of performing. The instrumentation was both seen and unseen: Helga rested with a cello, or an acoustic guitar, which she also switched off to Thor, who sat in front of a keyboard. The indie-pop was experimental and lucidly psychedelic with layers of sound from a marimba melody to a symphonic synthesizer.
The Pixies have been together since 1986 and have seen multiple lineups since their first incarnation and debut album Come On Pilgrim. After some in-fighting and creative differences between original members and main songwriters Black Francis and Kim Deal, the group broke up in 1993. Through all of this, the band had developed a religious following of fans and admirers who longed for a Pixies reunion, which did happen in 2004.
I was curious to see what an alternative band of their stature would look and sound like 25 years later and the answer is simple: they sound fantastic. Time has taken its toll on the group. Yes they’re a little balder, a little grayer, and a little heavier but their sound is as sharp as ever.
Opening their Chicago show at The Riviera Theatre on February 9th with “Bone Machine”, the group immediately set the bar high with a tremendous amount of distortion and feedback while lead singer Black Francis cooed falsettos over a mountain of drums and bass. With literally no stage banter between songs, the Pixies packed 32 songs into an hour and 45 minute set which had the sold out crowd cheering throughout the evening. Pulling material from landmark albums such as Doolittle and Surfer Rosa, the group mixed favorites like “Gouge Away” and “Where Is My Mind” in with the band’s newest releases, EP1 andEP2, and first new music in over 10 years, like “Indie Cindy” and “What Goes Boom”.
Newcomer to the group, Paz Lenchantin, handled departed bassist Kim Deal’s vocals with a polished style and grace that complimented Francis’ dark lyrics about extraterrestrials, love in vein, and a number of other assorted odd lines. The Pixies displayed the raw power and nerve that has served them so well over nearly three decades together and it was all on display at their Riviera show. Go see these guys if you get the chance.
Listen to Indie Cuts with your host Brandan Taylor every Monday night 9 to 11pm on WCRX, Chicago’s Underground and WCRXFM.com.