Keeping a finger on the pulse

Mono Town @ Reykjavik Music Mess 2013

Going by lift to heaven – Mono Town

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Have you ever received a birthday gift that knocked your socks off? I was enough lucky to get an entire festival for my first birthday celebrated in Iceland, woohoo! I will endlessly bless organizers of Reykjavik Music Mess for that. Seeing a band like Mono Town closing the third and the last day of the festival was the kind of experience that will get stuck for a long time in your mind. It was Sunday, around midnight so people started leaving the concert room of venue called Volta that no longer exists (under the name Volta… but right now it’s our good good Húrra) because next day was Monday and the last foreign artists just got off stage (yeah, Withered Hand, you were so good).

Before the gig I hadn’t known much about the band except the fact they are pretty promising team. Ok, shame on me. Now I understand my mistake. How could they not be such a hope of Icelandic music scene if Mono Town contains two members of such a brilliant funk band like Jagúar – brothers Börkur Hrafn and Daði? And this last one is pure music genius. All right, they both are. But, oh my, I could just watch Daði all set long while he is playing. He spreads magic barely touching keyboard of his piano. Sounds that he makes out of his instruments turn into kind of sonic poetry.

Specially for gigs Mono Town is joined by additional rhythm section – drummer, that time by a master – ladies and gentlemen – Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson (I will just tell he played with Jónsi on his solo world tour… and yes, he takes part in definitely more projects than you think), and a bass player – Guðmundur Óskar Guðmundsson (known also of Hjaltalín and many other great bands). They exactly know how to make a wide grin blossom on my face! The band waste no time on stage. To be honest, it’s not easy to describe or put in simple words path that Mono Town follows. Sometimes they sound like a bit riotous britpop, especially because Bjarki Sigurðsson, the guitarist and singer, has a specific voice that from time to time reminds me the old good Oasis, sometimes they add a pinch of western melodies that will take you to the wild West. And all of that fizzles with vigour and self-confidence of those musicians. You could ask me so what is the effect? I guess, the most proper answer is: JOY.

Those Cinderellas that run home because it was midnight could regret. Can Deny, that is the most spectacular song of Mono Town offered as a dessert during the concert, was this time available only for those favoured few who stayed til the end. For those several last minutes of the festival, the final of Can Deny had made me the most happy person in the house. I was going by lift to heaven from the moment the vocalist Bjarki let out a lonely scream tearing a seeming peace after the main and vibrant with emotions part of the song and then the best bass line exploded and the guitar almost spread sparks around… Oh, damn, the lift stopped suddenly in the second that the gig ended. Is that all…? Mhm, dust yourself off and go out. And you know, never pretend to be Cindrella, you may miss then something really beautiful.

Although rich arrangements on the debut album entitled In the eye of the storm are truly impressive I still prefer those a bit more wild live versions. And guess what, they were supporting none other than the Pixies on their tour! Do you know what that means?

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Stína has followed her passion to Icelandic music as a music journalist since 2010. She joined then a writing team of Muzyka Islandzka - a Polish website dedicated to Icelandic music. Spreading her wings, Stína started her adventure with Icelandic language and moved to Reykjavík where she studied the language at the university. She also takes an active part in life of the local music scene. Since 2014 Stína had run a music blog that was transformed in 2017 into a printed magazine on Icelandic music.

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