For his first LP, Hellenica continues his tour of ghost towns, walking between abandoned buildings in which some threatening presence might await. If it’s comfort you want, you should go somewhere else. We can still hear the influence of spaghetti western scores (think Ennio Morricone) with their fair share of worrisome tension, like any person we might encounter would be more likely to be an enemy than a friend. Hellenica expertly mixes genres and shapes them into a cohesive whole. One moment you believe you’re in an old western and the next software synths come in, leading you to think you might be in some dystopic future devoid of human activity instead, but where computers are still running by themselves, the only trace left of our existence. Intensely atmospheric, Blood Moon Wolf Head perfectly evokes this mysterious land where past and future overlap.
1. Porn Persons @ RATS 9
When I walked into RATS 9, there were clay statues of the Virgin Mary everywhere, less than a foot high. By the drums was a large, glowing, plastic one. Next to it, a luminous sign: PORN PERSONS. Most of the four musicians in the band, all men, had their face covered and were wearing dresses and longhaired wigs. The singer, a woman, was sporting a similar look. She sang-screamed, rolled around on the floor, dragged a case of the clay statues behind her… At a certain point, a woman in the audience felt compelled to lift up her foot and crush one of the statues with her boot. The man next to her bent down, picked up the dust in the palm of his hand, and pretended to snort it. At that moment, I knew it was the best show of the year.
2. Sigur Rós @ Centre Bell
Wearing a hoodie at the Sigur Rós show was one of the best accidental choices I ever made; I ended up holding my own hand the entire night.
3. Velvet Glacier + Blight + Woe @ Deathouse
When I walked into Deathouse, Velvet Glacier was already on the floor doing his thing, shirtless, covered in tattoos, turning knobs. For just a moment, I thought God existed and that he’d answered all my prayers. When the second act, Blight, turned out to be a black metal band with a longhaired shirtless drummer, you can understand how that delusion went on for a bit longer.
4. Klikk + Pink Street Boys + Coke Bust @ Bar 11 (Reykjavík)
There were basically two moments when I felt at home (i.e. where I was supposed to be) during my summer in Reykjavík. One of them was when I saw Klikk at Bar 11. There I was, in a dark basement, listening to punk and watching my Icelandic crush, Klikk singer Úlfur, scream his guts out while climbing everywhere, leaving audience members to untangle the long chord of his microphone so he could keep going wherever the fuck he wanted, and leaving the mic dangling from the ceiling before exiting when he was done.
Also, the drummer from Pink Street Boys did not help my thing for drummers.
5. Hellenica @ Deathouse
Smoke was filling up Deathouse and candles were burning onstage. Throughout his set, I developed a crush on Hellenica and thought that, if I ever held a black mass, I would definitely get him to score it.
6. Thee Nodes + Wastoids @ Brasserie Beaubien
The infamous Mr. Node began his set by throwing white glue on the audience (I assume because they were opening for the band Glue), then ripped his shirt open, crowd surfed all the way onto a pool table, and ended up naked under streamers. All this to say that Thee Nodes gave a pretty toned down performance that night. Also, two members from Wastoids shared a kiss during one of their songs, which is always nice.
7. GAG @ Concrete Cage
The singer from GAG crowd surfed all the way onto a shady structure at the back of the room, leaving those right under it to hold it up with their hands and the rest of us to pray it wouldn’t collapse on us.
8. Klikk @ Dillon (Reykjavík)
9. Muck + AMFJ + Whorls @ Bar 11 (Reykjavík)
…but the other time I actually felt at home in Reykjavík was when I saw Muck.
10. Elín Ey @ Kiki (Reykjavík)
Elín Ey (who reminded me of Rae Spoon in their more folksy days) opened her intimate set, which quietly closed the Reykjavík Pride festivities, by stating, “It’s good to be gay.” It’s hard to argue with that, especially when you’re holding the hand of a beautiful man.
11. Dekoder @ Decadent Squalor
FULL DISCLOSURE: I consider some of the members of Dekoder to be my friends. But few things are as great as the feeling you get when you realize how fucking talented your friends are, knowing you won’t have to bullshit them after the show. And Dekoder just keeps getting better.
12. Taylor Hoodlum Stevenson + Ultrathin + Soupcans @ Katacombes
The rock show that had rung in the New Year at Jackie & Judy two years ago had been (like every other show there) so underwhelming that it is a cause for celebration that the one that brought in 2013 at Katacombes was as fun as a New Year’s party should be, with the right people, and just the right level of inebriation.
2013 in My Ears – A Mix:
has an MA in Film Studies and is the host of the music show The Rest of Us on CJLO 1690AM. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.