6/19/14 – Great Scott

Layers of Icelandic music filled a sold-out Great Scott, and the venue was drenched in darkness as Ásgeir and crew trickled onto the stage. Flashes went off as the buzzing crowd snapped photos of beards, a hipster beanie, and the man they were all there to see: the clean-cut Ásgeir Trausti.

It’s not a surprise the venue was filled to capacity: this guy is huge in Iceland, and one in ten people in the country own this Bon-Iver-sound-alike’s album. Without introduction, they began; synth sliced through the air, an assortment of laser-like sounds and the high falsetto rose to the ceiling.

Yet, despite the warm welcome and the cheering for every song, Ásgeir never addressed the crowd’s excitement. Not even a word was directed towards the overly-enthusiastic crew of Icelandic fans, who screamed praise in his native language. Straight-faced, the band stood still as they moved from song to song, a mixed set of Icelandic and English numbers. Yet even the choice of language didn’t always make sense. Key favorites like “In Harmony” — a track the overwhelmingly English-speaking crowd would surely recognize — were sung in Icelandic, leaving fans confused as they silently mouthed along the words they thought they knew.

Summer hasn’t hit us full-force quite yet, but a sticky heat surrounded the audience at Great Scott, while a slow, viscous version of their most popular track “King and Cross” trudged along. A number of yawns passed from fan to fan as the disinterested band continued with what seemed like an obligatory show.

There was no encore. There was no time to chat with the band. There were no personal interactions with Ásgeir, even though his fans were surely eager to meet him, especially at a venue known for its intimacy. Instead, at the end of the set the group raced out of the venue to have a smoke.

Luckily, the night hadn’t started out like this; the unexpected talent of a 24-year-old soloist was the silver lining of the night. The opener, Conner Youngblood, left me wishing I could sprint home so I could listen to his album. Ásgeir left me wishing I had stayed home and listened to his album.

Sure, the band played a beautiful set. But it didn’t deviate much from the recorded material. The band, stiff in the stuffy room, lacked emotion and interaction. Language barriers can prove difficult, but there’s something to be said about eye contact, a smile, or even acknowledging your hardcore Icelandic fans (who can not only pronounce your name properly, but also speak your native tongue).

Ásgeir: An Obligatory Performance
Though clearly talented, Ásgeir's live performance failed to impress as the band seemed to lack enthusiasm or interest in interacting with the crowd at Great Scott.
PROS
  • Basically a recreation of a beautiful album
  • A mix of languages, original material, and covers
Cons
  • Band lacked enthusiasm
  • Poor choice of language for songs
  • Failed to address or interact with fans
5.7Overall Score

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