The concert kicked off at 4:00 in grand Innipúkinn style: a few stragglers who came early for the free beer, but the hall soon filled up, everyone observing this invisible ten foot buffer between the stage and audience. KGB (aka Kristinn Gunnarsson from Ensími) mixed some enticing groove to coax the room full of wallflowers to draw a little nearer, and towards the end of his set people actually began to approach the stage, sit down, and powwow about the music at hand. The crowd was composed and attentive -- a good audience for some of the greener acts like Mammút.
Mammút is the 5-piece that emerged during this year’s Músik Tilraunir competition as one of Iceland’s up-and coming. For such a young group they have quite a restrained sound. While much of what they perform is either cover songs or derivative of their favorite bands, at their best moments they strike an earnest tone, with somewhat loopy melodies, off-kilter instrumentation, and an infectious energy that can really engage the audience when the kids pull their act together. Their stage presence is awkward in an endearing way; Guitarist Alexandra Baldursdóttir rarely looks up and bassist Guðrún Ísaksdóttir seems to be hiding behind her hair. Unlike most bands of their age, they are a mix of boys and girls. Guitarist Arnar Pétursson comments, “There is more tension in the band this way. We are more balanced. The girls bring a sweetness, a kindness to the songs with our rougher sound.” A certain brand of tension peculiar to teens is also evident in their music, something a lot of musicians their age don’t necessarily handle very well. “Átvagl” (Glutton) was written in the trenches of Musík Tilraunir when they realized they needed more material. Singer/lyricist Katrín Mogensen explains, “We were so stressed that we just wanted to eat each other. I could have eaten up Alexandra, so we made this song out of that moment.” In person they are an odd mix. Part egghead and oddball, part princess and jock -- as if the Breakfast Club got together after their fateful detention and started a garage band. But they all seem committed to forging a sound of their own and are currently hard at work recording tracks for an upcoming album.
The line-up was unexpectedly diverse with big names like Singapore Sling and Trabant, as well as some old names like the rabel-rousing sexagenarian, Ómar Ragnarsson. On the schedule was also the very young Mammút whose average age is somewhere between 15 and 16. Benni Hemm Hemm filled the stage with an outrageous brass section while the much smaller troubadour duet, Súkkat, charmed the audience with heartwarming ballads like “Turd in the Pool.”