Long Distance Calling, Sostafir, Sahg, Camden Underworld 22nd March 2013 Review
Words and photos by Antony Roberts
Due to full time work commitments I arrived disappointingly late and Sahg were already playing to a somewhat small but enthusiastic crowd in London’s Underworld club. It was great to see a band going for it regardless of the lack of audience, head banging side by side, throwing their guitars skywards, they fully rocked out. By set closer “Echoes Ring Forever” their enthusiasm was rewarded, the 40-50 people that had made the effort to get down early were clapping along and banging their heads in appreciation to some great twin guitar solos and catchy choruses, I wish I’d managed to catch more of their set.
Find Sahg on facebook here.
Sahg support Audrey Horne and Ancient VVisdom later this month full dates here.
Solstafir started with their backs to a far larger Underworld crowd, sipping on whiskey as their moody atmospheric intro “Náttfari” led into the galloping “Ljós í Stormi”. Singer Aðalbjörn asked “has anyone been to Iceland?”. Whilst they are from there some of the band had lived in London for a few years so as he puts it “The boys are back in town, we come from the land of ice and snow, and volcanos, and lots of fucking black sand”. This signalled the start of “Svartir Sandar” (Black Sands – from the 2011 album of the same name) with it’s emotional almost pleading pained vocal intro. As the drums rolled into the fast section bass player Svavar turned into a human rocking machine, his head flying side to side, plaited ponytails either side bouncing around as he fingered the rumbling bassline. Meanwhile drummer Guðmundur is all dreads a flailing as he batters down the rolling beats. They slowed things down for the brooding “Fjara”, as the Underworld filled up a little, the curious heading down from the bar area to check out these Icelandic curiosities. I say curiosity as for anyone hearing them for the first time they are so very unique. Much like larger names from their cold country such as Bjork or Sigur Ros, they have a sound individual and peerless, there’s no-one out there you can really compare them with. Finishing with “Goddess Of The Ages” from 2009’s “Kold” their impressive live performance won many a heart over as the crowd squeezed out and most headed straight for the merch area, fantastic stuff.
Solstafir play Eistnaflug festival in Iceland in July, details here. Find them on facebook here. They also hinted at a headline tour of the UK in September/October this year, you heard it here first, fingers crossed!
Germany’s Long Distance Calling stepped onto the stage bathed in blue from the LED lights straddled across the stage front as film samples played over for their intro. They started with “Nucleus” the first track from the (very) recent new album “The Flood Inside”. It’s a post rock number that never really bites, instead deciding to go into the land of repeated proggy riff noodles, and when they finally kick in to overdrive mode it’s over. Following the twisting complexity of “The Filgrin D’an Boogie”, the third track “The Man Within” marks the first live song with vocals. Long Distance Calling have been an instrumental band up until the latest album and this new track has quite the Tool vibe to it. “Aurora” and “Metulsky Curse Revisited” take the more traditional post rock approach of slow build up before waves of delay heavy arpeggios drown into crunching head nodding riffs. Long Distance Calling perfectly executed shifts through complex rhythm changes, and they proved to me that sometimes heaviness can come through the subtle. Indeed, it’s on the more minimal tracks with simple loops like “Arecibo” and the set closer “Apparitions” that I found myself the most engrossed. I’m still not 100% on the new direction with vocals, but regardless bands evolve, and one thing they proved at the underworld is their live show is still a tight, trippy voyage.