An Icelandic band who are neither glacial nor kooky? Getintothis sent David Hall to the Shipping Forecast to investigate the Reykjavík wrecking crew.
With barely room for the seven-piece band and their equipment onstage, Eno G kicked off the night’s proceedings with a brief but enjoyable set of poppy, upbeat lounge funk. His band sounded tight and professional and the brass section even whipped out a baritone saxophone. Sexy.
An eclectic night was guaranteed moments later when progressive mathcore outfit Taws took us way off the map. Although a more comfortable fit onstage for the technical four-piece, their music is irrepressibly jagged, all broken-footed rhythms, noise and madcap time signatures. Everything sounds liable to fall apart at any moment – which is part of the fun – but impressively it never does. A decent head-nodding groove is also hard to come by amongst their off-the-wall song structures, but near the end of their last song, Taws lock their jaws upon one and threaten to never let go. Their de facto frontwoman also has an amazing voice, which we got to hear little of in their mainly instrumental material, but more vocal input from her would be a definite avenue of investigation in future.
Anyone hoping for some face-melting grindcore from a band named Slutface would have been sorely disappointed. What we got next was some competent, energetic, non-threatening pop punk. Kicking off with first-result-if-you-search-them-on-YouTube Angst, the Norwegian youngsters came with a large ‘ones-to-watch’ label hanging over them. Unfortunately, there weren’t many people watching them in the Shipping Forecast. To their credit, they did the whole ‘move closer’ thing, they tried some crowd participation (on the most Be Your Own Pet soundalike of the lot, Bad Party) and by the end, there were definite converts. I guess that’s how you live up to the next big thing whispers, not by winning over rooms booming with people, but on difficult nights with 20-odd in the place.
All of which begs the question, why did they decide on the name Slutface? Your little sister would love their music, but that title takes a lot of getting past. What teenager would buy a t-shirt and wear it to sixth form the next day? They’d be sent home to change. With their trebly guitar playing and melodic basslines, they delivered an enjoyable if harmless set. Shit got a whole lot more real when human tower bassist Lasse Lokøy descended from the stage into the audience, but no damage was done.
Slutface could be the new Paramore; they live or die by whether that sounds appealing or not.
Fufanu took to the stage with the minimum of fuss and instantly proved themselves a proper band. Full of menace and intensity, they laid into a set of moody, heavy darkwave punk. As if Darklands-era JAMC had grown up listening to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Interpol and Depeche Mode’s grimiest of industrial moments instead of ’60s girl groups.
There was a palpable ‘last gang in town’ feel about the band. They entered the venue as a collective between support sets, loudly speaking Icelandic amongst themselves. Then, without a decent haircut between them, took to the stage and set about taking the Shipping Forecast apart. In contrast to Slutface‘s eagerness to please, Fufanu didn’t give a fuck how close or distant from the stage the crowd stood. They probably would’ve made the same ferocious noise to an audience of the sound tech and bartender.
Fufanu‘s frontman Kaktus Einarsson is a real tour de force, impossible to take your eyes off. He’s a bizarre mix of Britpop frontmen, part Liam Gallagher sneer and Ian Brown catcalling swagger, with Thom Yorke’s idiosyncratic dance moves mixed in. One minute Einarsson is making Jarvis Cocker kissy faces and fluttered eyelashes, the next he’s hanging offstage like some leering gargoyle, before ending up screaming in the faces of the front row. Ending each song with little more than a ‘thank you’, intoned as if it was no more than he expected, ‘we know, we’re good‘ Kaktus seemed to say.
His stoic bandmates never missed a beat behind him; fellow core member Guðlaugur Einarsson was an impassive, cold-eyed golem holding down an evil drone on guitar as keyboards crackled and the rhythm section stomped unstoppably onwards. There is a subtlety to Fufanu‘s music; strings of electroclash keys and twinkles of techno. But live even more so than on record, sheer volume becomes more than just a dynamic aspect, more than just a crescendo, but a weapon.
The show was hair-raising, spine-tingling, and gave the distinct impression that Fufanu are right – and we mean right – on the cusp of great, great things.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam