Saturday, 1 October 2011

Razika, LCMDF, Sykur at Hoxton Bar & KItchen - 29 September 2011


It’s the end of September and quite unexpectedly, the weather in London has turned as hot as hell. No one expected this, certainly not the bands playing here tonight.

Tonight’s entertainment is bought to us courtesy of Ja Ja Ja Music, purveyors of top Nordic pop fun.

We start off with Sykur, who hail from Iceland. They are three young guys called Halldór, Stefán and Kristján, who hunch over keyboards and produce a minimalist, stripped down Knife-like funk.

However, the undoubted star of the show is their guest singer Rakel Mjöll, who has prepared for the performance by getting cataclysmically, heroically, gloriously drunk. She crashes onto the stage dressed in a white manga school girl outfit and just lets rip.

Sometimes she raps, sometimes she sings, often she just wails off microphone, producing a sound not unlike the Clare Torry vocal solo in Pink Floyd’s ‘Great Gig In The Sky’. She also jumps up and down a lot and bashes the rest of the band about.

She is hilarious but utterly brilliant at the same time. Occasionally slurping from a pint of lager secured with both hands, she has a magnificently expressive face, across which every thought and emotion can be read as though it were on a ten foot billboard. Confusion, determination and terror being the feelings most prominently featured.

Despite, or perhaps because of this apparent chaos, Sykur are absolutely fantastic. The music is catchy and the sheer lack of inhibition and open vulnerability on display completely disarming.

You can tell that the band are a bit disappointed with the static, gobsmacked crowd. This is a shame because this is one of the most memorable performances of the year.

I have seen LCMDF several times over the years and had pegged them as kind of ‘ok’ but not much more than that. Tonight, my preconceptions are not so much blown away as completely vaporised.

The two Finnish sisters Emma and Mia Kemppainen are accompanied by Christian, an unflustered and cool drummer. It is quite clear that the addition of a live percussionist has completely rejuvenated the band and allows the two girls free rein to bombard us with their full on bouncy pop.

Blonde singer Emma struts, preens and dances in a pair of denim shorts and works herself up into a breathless frenzy. Mia plays guitar and gradually sheds clothing in the heat, each laughing at the other deteriorating into a sweaty, sticky (sexy) mess.

The set starts with crowd favourite ‘Gandhi’ and proceeds from there, each track more energetic and joyous than the last. LCMDF are on terrific form tonight and have not just raised their game, they’re playing a whole different sport. They have a track called ‘Cool and Bored’ – it’s pretty much the least appropriate title imaginable.

Headliners Razika thus have two very tough acts to follow, and that they don’t manage it is hardly their fault. This is their first show in London and they are clearly extremely nervous.

Razika are an all-girl quartet from Norway, who dress in black and white and play ska music – although not in the usual sense of the term.

In some respects the Razika approach to ska is the same as Vampire Weekend’s appropriation of Afrobeat- measured, deliberate and more of a mathematical exercise than an explosion of energy and fun.

The girls stand stiff and awkward and you rather feel for them. They come across as sweet and earnest, but very daunted by the experience and hopelessly outgunned by the acts that have preceded them.

It has been a sweltering, rowdy, booze-fuelled belter of an evening. There’s talk of an Indian summer – but it looks like a brilliant Nordic night to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sykur's singer for this gig was Agnes Björt Andradóttir, not Rakel