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Andy Went to a Concert!

March 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Boston is no stranger to great music.  In fact at this very moment, there is probably some great band performing an old favorite to a group of  beer guzzling post grads.  There are unquestionably tables set up in the backs of small stage venues, where long haired hipsters offer a myriad of delightful musical gear.  In fact, I know that local favorites “The Dropkick Murphys” are playing a show at the House of Blues.  But I didn’t go to any of these events, and I feel pretty good about that.

But Andy, why??  Well that’s a good question, but perhaps let me explain first before you open your god-forsaken trap next time.  I DID go to a concert tonight, and while I’m sure the good ‘ole DMs (that’s a thing right?) put on a hell of a show, but tonight, I didn’t care to see their fast paced, mosh inducing antics.  No, tonight, I went to see Olof Arnalds, an Icelandic folk artist… (entirely free show btw, you really oughtta keep your eyes open for those)

Who? you may be asking.  Did I stutter? Olof Arnalds. Never heard of her?  Well I guess I see where you’re coming from.  She hasn’t really hit the states as hard as her Icelandic comrades Sigur Ros or Bjork.  She is probably better know for her involvement with Mum. Her style of playing is soft, melodic… at times quirky, but always entrancing.  Her quiet guitar arpeggios set the backdrop for her ghostly, wavering soprano.  For the most part she sings in icelandic, which is an interesting and welcome change of pace from most of the music I listen to.  I beleive a friend of mine described it best when he called it “summertime laying in the grass-type music”.

The music was great, but I find you can learn much more about the musicianship of an artist by listening to what they do in between their songs.  It is here that you are often able to see how comfortable a musician feels up on stage, facing the relentless gaze of 50 or so strangers.  This is no easy feat and we could see that there were times Olof was visibly flustered while trying to read the setlist (which had been placed on stage upside down), or when switching instruments.  However, these nervous ticks quickly subsided and what we ended up seeing was one of the more confident, and sincere performances I’ve seen in a while.  She truly got to know the audience, and I feel we got to know her.  She had several songs where she asked the audience to participate by singing a harmony over her vocals.

At one point during the show, some mouth-breather outside decided it would be a good idea to lay on their car horn for a good five to ten minutes, causing Arnalds to stop playing midsong.  Olof handled this by making a joke about how it reminded her of the monotonality of Icelandic punk music, and eventually retuning her guitar to be in tune with the car horn outside.  Her banter was breif but funny, and at times thought provoking.  My favorite quip of hers came when she was describing this instrument, which is made from the shell of an armadillo.  “So, you know… pretty brutal.” she sighed “But I can’t think of any better afterlife, than to be made into a beautiful instrument.”  I am, of course, paraphrasing, but it was such an interesting line, I had to include it.  All in all it was an experience worth a thousand times what I paid for it (which, lucky for my college budget, is still free.)  Moments like this one: going into the show not knowing what I’d find, and walking out with a smile on my face, make life worth living.  I definitely recommend seeing her the next time she rolls around. Whether she be on her own, or with Mum she definitely deserves your attention.

Check out her myspace here: Olof Arnalds.  Try “I Nyju husi” and “Klara”

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