Kött Grá Pje
KGP is not just a rapper, he’s a personality. This is apparent on his Facebook page, where between February 12th and 16th, he made a string of 15 posts about handrails. Yes, handrails. This show was as fun for the eyes as it was for the ears. The band was wearing shiny gold sweat suits. The video stream included funky shifting patterns and gold cats. We really got going when Kött took his shirt off to reveal a giant phallus drawn on his back, and “This Machine Kills Falafel” written on his stomach. Bonus points for working a tongue-in-cheek Woody Guthrie reference into a rap show, and for answering the question “in what context does a gold glitter beard actually look appropriate?”
We then drove down to Harpa Concert Hall for our last night of Sónar this year; five people in a small car like sardines in a can. I was looking forward to seeing the UK-born rapper Nadia Rose this evening, but sadly, she had to cancel. We went straight to Silfurberg Hall to see the legendary rapper Kött Grá Pje. He‘s an Icelandic rapper who worships his cat, Kali. With him on the stage were two band members dressed in beautiful gold uniforms and his side-kick wearing a festive glitter beard who had a fabulous golden glitter beard. Kött Grá Pje soon ripped his shirt off, revealing a drawing of a penis on his back and on his belly, was written: “This machine kills falafel “. I do not know the story behind this art. Between songs, he used the opportunity to talk about politic matters that are dear to him (immigrant issues and feminism for example). He published a poetry book recently and likes to play with words. I find his poems and lyrics enjoyable to read. The stage performance was super interesting to see. I would describe him as a cat-loving, long-haired hippie occasionally wearing nail polish.
De La Soul
Jelena – We were heading to see Nadia Rose when we heard her show had been cancelled, so we made a detour back to Silfurberg to hear De La Soul. These hip hop veterans were one of the headliners of the festival and highly anticipated by the gathering crowd. Though I can’t dis their music or their vast contribution to hip hop over the years, their drawn-out attempts to get a screaming competition going in the audience felt a bit MC-at-a-high-school-dance.
Ásdís – De La Soul, the American hip hop trio were mostly famous in the 90s. I haven‘t listened to their music much, although I recognised some songs. I‘m not the biggest hip hop fan, but I decided to stay and check it out. I didn’t regret it. They were great on stage. They asked everyone to put down the phones, so we would enjoy the show better. They managed to get every person in the crowd put their hands up and dance. I even saw the mayor of Reykjavík, Dagur B Eggertsson having a good time.
This Canadian native stepped onto the stage dancing and got the crowd on their feet without delay. Her set was more beat-heavy than I had anticipated based on previous listening, but she owned the music and the stage. After the larger crowds and more mainstream sounds upstairs, this set was a refresher for the ears. Davidson’s focus and confidence shone when she coolly ignored some mid-set harassment. For Christmas this year I would like more women like Davidson in electronic music, please.
Ásdís – I decided to take a break from De la soul, I left my friends and wandered around, as I think that a big part of the festival experience is the people, and all the different fashion styles going on. At festivals like this, you have a mix of tourists and Icelanders, in every age. Walking past the door of Kaldalón Hall, I heard appealing music and went in. Kaldalón is different from the other concert halls at Sónar because there are seats there. That’s perfect for people who are either tired or who don‘t like dancing. I think I saw someone napping in there. I sat down and Marie Davidson was playing hardcore techno. On the stage next to her, a small group of people had formed a small dance floor. I really enjoyed her show and sat there for a long time. She‘s a singer, poet and electronic music producer from Montreal.
Jelena – Personally, I didn’t have any clear expectations for this show. It had been years since I had asked myself what Fatboy Slim was doing. I think many of us in the audience felt the same, but we were quickly rewarded with a perfect balance between expert showmanship, danceable beats, and humour. We heard the hits we all wanted to hear, but they were presented in a fresh way. One of my pet peeves at live shows is when text or lyrics are hard to understand, so I loved the accompanying video projections with animated text and mouthing lips. It put the focus on the light-heartedness and wit of the content. This show struck the perfect balance!
Jelena – This was just the chill show I needed after slipping out of the sweaty, less-than-fragrant mess of bodies at Fatboy Slim’s set. Giggs was rocking it with a cool confidence. The songs were well-crafted and varied, in a way that felt good to dance to, or just sip your beer and nod your head to. Recommended for your next house party playlist.
Jelena – Just before I headed out for the night for a solid post-festival sleep, I peeked into the Car Park to see how the party was going. This venue created in the parking lot of Harpa was the underside of the Sónar festival. It was the space for those who just wanted good beats and no fuss. B. Traits was rocking the crowd, which was not huge but was certainly dedicated. In this space and moment, I really felt the commitment of the musicians and the fans to electronic music in Iceland. The festival ends, but the beat goes on!