KEXP Live at Iceland Airwaves 2016, Day 1: SUÐ

Iceland Airwaves, Live Performances
Katy McCourt-Basham
Photos by Jim Bennett

The crowd at Kex Hostel is abuzz with excitement in anticipation of the triumphant return of Icelandic indie-rock band SUР(appropriately, Icelandic for “Buzz”). The band originally formed in the late 90’s, releasing only one album, 1999’s Hugsunarvélin, and played together until 2003. After reconnecting at guitarist Helgi's wedding a couple years ago, SUÐ decided to start playing together again. They self-released their sophomore album Meira Suð in September of this year. Their sound speaks to a kind of resurgence of an iconic Generation-X sound, with disaffected vocals, punching beats, and pleasantly sloppy guitars, they would have been right at home on bill with Weezer or Pavement in the late 90's. Maybe it’s the 17 year gap between records, but “sophomore slump” is not in SUÐ's vocabulary. Meira Suð is a strong record from start to finish, and marks a promising future for a band remade anew.

The crowd for this early set was rather small, but what they lacked in numbers, they made up tenfold in enthusiasm, greeting SUÐ with roaring applause. Their set was sunny and energetic, almost more at home a Southern California skate park than in wintry Iceland. Their songs have a nostalgic quality, paying tribute to the indie-rock greats of the 90's while still maintaining a unique voice, and without feeling tired or same-y. "Plastgea" (yesterday's song of the day) and "Í Jafnvægi" have a lethargic, Malkmus-esque feel to them, while "Á Flótta" brought the energy up with a punching punk beat and fast, messy riffs. As performers, SUÐ are quite reserved, but they have a quiet energy and endearing self-effacing charm that could win over any crowd. Their sound was very tight, you would never know that they had gone almost 15 years without playing together. The real standout of the set was their closing number, "Þrælakistan / Fálma." Fun, upbeat and compelling, with a call and response style and blistering guitar licks, it served as a perfect introduction to Airwaves 2016.

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