KEXP Live at Iceland Airwaves 2017, Day 2: Hórmónar

Iceland Airwaves
Katy McCourt-Basham
Photos by Jim Bennett

We rounded out day two of our Iceland Airwaves broadcast live from Kex Hostel with Icelandic punk band Hórmónar. Like many of our favorite Icelandic acts, Hórmónar were the winners of last year’s Músíktilraunir or “Music Experiments,” Iceland’s youth-focused battle of the bands (other winners include such notable acts as Vök, Mammút, Agent Fresco, Of Monsters And Men, and Samaris). Their name means “Hormones” in Icelandic, to which the screaming angst of their music is perfectly suited. Vocalist Brynhildur Karlsdóttir is powerful and defiant over raucous music. The band had no background in music before forming in late 2015 in the small town of Garðabær, and they say that their “work ethic is based behind the belief that creating music should not be limited to those well acquainted with the process, and to go beyond their own comfort zone.”

Frontwomen Brynhildur Karlsdóttir and Urður Bergsdóttir—clad all in leopard print and fiery energy—made it feel more like CBGB in the 70's than a hostel in 2017. They opened with "Hamskipti" which quickly moves slow, doomy, and rhythmic into super loud, emotive, high-intensity screaming, letting everyone know from the beginning that they shouldn't get too comfortable. Brynhildur was exploding with power that left her trying to catch her breath at the end of the song. The energy in the room was high right from the start, the crowd enthralled with every shriek and every note. The good vibes were mutual, with Brynhildur joking at one point that the audience was so good they wanted to hire us to be their audience for the rest of airwaves.

It feels like Hórmónar is in an exploratory stage, touching on many of the different variations of punk from song to song. From the super-heavy "Glussi" to the punchy and up-tempo "Kynsvelt." All about the element of surprise, several of their songs lull you into a false sense of security with whispers or pretty harmonies before dissolving into absolute chaos. They ended with "Frumeymd," a slower shoegazey number that was a bit of a departure from the rest of their set, but an amazing way to end the show. Reminiscent of Mogwai or Sonic Youth, the high, pure notes and epic harmonies mixed with post-rock drums built into a beautiful wall of noise.I would say they closed our night with a bang, but it would be more accurate to say they closed our night with a primal shriek, keeping their set raw and electrifying to the very end.

Join us tomorrow for another great day of live music, beginning with Finnish singer-songwriter Mikko Joensuu at 1pm local time/6am PST/9am EST

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