Reykjavik Calling Brings Sounds of Iceland to Boston
Reykjavik Calling brought the sounds of Iceland to Boston as part of the 9th-annual 4 day Taste of Iceland Festival. Paradise Rock Club hosted artists from Iceland and Boston for a show with an intricate mix of sounds and influence on March 9th.
First on the bill, Jófríður Ákadóttir, known simply by her stage name JFDR, brought to the table a self- described “dreamy” experience with a blend of electric guitar and haunting vocals with synthesized electronic beats executed by accompanying musician Áslaug Magnúsdóttir. Though she’s currently on a solo venture, she got her start in a duo, Pascal Pinon, with her twin sister, and later spent time as the vocalist of Reykjavik-based electronic group Samaris. Her gradual change came naturally and she notes “just wanting to make music and play,” as being a priority over fame and touring in her impressive career; playing shows around Iceland and Europe at only 24. She is currently working on a new album and has an appreciation for the simplicity of certain songs like “Instant Patience” when brought to the stage live. When she’s not on stage, she’s listening to Kelly Lee Owens, at home in New York City where she settled a year ago after releasing her debut album, Brazil. With the release of her next record, fans can expect a similar, comfortable vibe, drawing on the same inspirations to include more ethereal electric guitar and synth. When she was asked about her home country, Iceland, she says her best advice for tourists would be to take the time “to look up at the sky,” for the unique experience of the Northern Lights.
Following JFDR in stark contrast, was Sturla Atlas, a high-energy hip-hop group whose talent is rivaled only by an incredible stage presence. From the beginning of their set, they aimed to engage with the audience, frequently encouraging them to move closer to the stage and sing along. Catchy lyrics underscored by melodious and unique beats, the boys moved through song after song with a finesse to be expected from a more veteran artist. Within their solidified sound, they have a wide range from lyrically heavy to rhythmic dance-like-no-one’s-watching anthems. Towards the end of their set they arrive at “San Francisco,” a ballad-esqe number from their debut album Love Hurts, with a more relaxed vibe and a smooth and simple. Their tracks have an American vibe with R&B vocals mixed in despite their Icelandic roots to make for an individual sound and experience.
Closing out the night was Boston based indie pop band Air Traffic Controller, with an impressive set list including a Tom Petty cover and 15 original songs ranging from their first, to most recent releases. They opened with a song rom their latest album “Echo Papa.” Rolling into “What You Do to my Soul,” a feel good song about love, with relatable lyrics and a catchy rhythm, the audience was captivated just minutes in. At the halfway point of their set, illuminated by the string lights surrounding the stage, frontman Dave Munro notes “The House” is a song about the experiences of growing up, and the home where everyone met up, a pillar of childhood that made for the kind of song you can sing driving with all the windows rolled down in your car. They ended with the explosive “Are You With Me,” from their sophomore effort, including an enchanting audience call and response. They maintained their energy, and that of the audience, with ease to close out a long show. Along with their air of confidence, they are a joy to watch as they are so clearly close friends on and off the stage, with Munro taking the time to promote bassist Cilla Bonnie’s upcoming solo album.
Long established as a cultural hub, Boston was the ideal place for the sights, sounds and flavors of Iceland, and Reykjavik Calling was no exception. A balance of genres and energies created a one of a kind dynamic and unforgettable show.