Interesting venue, mushy sound and a somewhat strange show

Árstíðir – Arena / Dreiraum, Vienna; February 20th 2019

So far I’d been lucky and during the four days of touring with Árstíðir (has it really only been four days?) I’d only seen great shows (and “great” is actually an understatement here). It was all amazing and the previous day I’d told Daníel “You’re on a roll here. You’re getting better and better.” Well, Vienna was an exception to that rule. Don’t get me wrong, the guys were wonderful and delivered as they always do, but let’s just say the circumstances were less than ideal. I enjoyed the show nonetheless, but felt sorry for them after. Here’s hoping for a better show in Poznan.

The previous day, upon realizing I would never make an 8 minute connection between trains, I had spontaneously rebooked to a bus to Vienna. It meant that I had to leave at 7:30 instead of 10:15, but the bus took only 30 minutes longer than the train and it ended a few 100 meters from my hotel. 🙂 I got too little sleep of course, but I had two comfy seats to myself and was in dreamland again even before we left Vienna. Woke up again three hours later and felt well rested. Time to blog, edit pictures are reminisce about the past few days. Everything always goes by so fast and I was in full tour mode by now, forgetting which day of the week it was, my mind totally relaxed otherwise. My hotel in Vienna was right across from the venue and my friend S. out of town so I had nothing to do but relax before the show.

Arrived as the guys had just finished sound check. Ran into Krys who told me I was on the guest list and could sell my ticket. Awww <3 Met people who remembered me from Baden a few years ago. Apparently that was my 65th concert. I won’t argue, but I have no idea. 😉 Didn’t manage to sell my ticket, but got a good spot at the front. The arena where they played consisted of several venues and looked interesting overall with cool buildings and graffiti on the wall. Árstíðir played at Dreiraum Bar, the smallest of the venues there. It was sold out and supposed to hold 200 people, but seemed way to small for that. Also smoking was allowed et again. Not in the concert hall, but in the bar and the smoke drifted in anyway. I hate the way my clothes smell after a night like that. Oh well, nothing to do about it now.

They started pretty much on time and because the stage was small and the lights not much brighter than candles, I rested my camera for most of the night. It started off well enough and I closed my eyes, enjoying the music. The audience was supportive and especially a guy to my left was rally into it, dancing. 🙂 Yet, the sound was off, compared to the shows before. Just not as clear and as crisp as it could be. It was OK for the first half of the show, but deteriorated noticeably after ‘Entangled’. Especially ‘Like Snow’ was a mess. It sounded, for lack of a better word, mushy, i.e. the instruments weren’t clearly separated and I hardly heard the piano or Ragnar. Meh. got a little bit better again after, but not much.

I loved it anyway. Now I was on a roll, enjoying each show to the fullest and even finding good things here. Since I am always at the front I’ve learned to live with less than ideal sound. It’s the trade off for getting to see little details that one would miss standing in the back. Of course sometimes, when you are lucky, the sound is great in the entire room, but generally speaking it is best at the mixing desk, so I tend to believe when I think it is bad it is due to my position in the room. Also, most people there won’t have the comparison to other gigs and as long as the enjoy the show I guess it is OK.

Watching them play was fun and with the small stage I was close to everyone and could even see all of them at times. 😉 ‘Mute’ was really great that night. It is a song I like, but it often pales in comparison to the others I love more. This time it stood out though. For the first time I noticed Ragnar’s singing part in the song. No idea why I never really paid attention to it before. The song was amazing overall, everything about it hit home and left me sighing happily.

During the acoustic set Daníel told us that they started out sitting in a living rom, listening to vinyls and drinking red wine and were crying to recreate this atmosphere now. It works quite well every night and always makes people listen closely. The contrast to the new material is striking and that makes it even better. You get a taste of everything during the concert. Afterwards Gunnar noted that not so much had changed in 10 years regarding listening to music and drinking red wine. Daníel replied “We’re drinking proper red wine now” and explained how it had been home brew back then. 😀 Usually at this point, Ragnar introduced the string players, asking them back to the stage, butthis time he silently assed that requirement on to Gunnar.

For some reason Ragnar felled compelled to mention football and joke about viking chants. It was rather funny. Then of course it was the explanation of “nivalis” meaning like snow and that it is used for animals and plants who like the cold, “sort of like Icelanders”. I just though “yeah, sure and that is why you have been complaining about your shitty summer all the last tour” when Gunnar added “if you spot an Icelander in 0 degrees wearing just a T-shirt. We’re really proud of this, we think we’re tough. It feels natural, because that’s what our summers are like.” 😀 Before ‘Friðþægingin’ when Daníel challenged us to pronounce the song title correctly and said “Many brave souls have tried, all have failed” I just had to correct him and shouted “All but one!” so Ragnar told him that he’d had to buy a beer the previous day. 😉

During the song though, they had severed sound trouble. There were several cracking noises that made e think of gunshots (probably because I have no clue what real gunshots sound like).They joked about it, but Guillaume was visibly unhappy with it, concentrating harder on his playing than usual. It happened again during ‘Things you said’ and got so bad that the guys decided to start over. Turns out it was the violin cable. They muted it and it got better, but it should not have been so shitty to begin with. I felt so sorry for them, because they put on such a good show. At one point I noticed some silent communication when Gunnar looked from one of the guitar pedals to Daníel indicating with that one look that the pedal was in the wrong position and Daníel immediately corrected it. Seeing how much they are tuned into each other made me smile.

Somehow the band pulled through and ended the main set to many cheers. It’s funny how most audiences can live with everything as long as the show goes on. This night I could really relate to everything Gunnar said before ‘Passion’, because he talked about people thinks you see so many countries when you are on tour and you rarely see anything. I hear you brother! In Vienna I saw the bus station, my hotel, the super market next door and the venue. 😉

People did want more, the guys didn’t even bother to leave the sate and after some consideration stepped down into the crowd for ‘Góda veslu göra skal’. Before, Ragnar spoke about how the love singing everywhere and when he mentioned train stations, someone voiced their approval so loudly that Gunnar told them it wasn’t ‘Her hymna smiður’. The song worked perfectly, because they didn’t need any amplification at all. ‘Nú gleymist ég’ was last and I felt they were happy to be done with the show.

Talked to all of them briefly and noticed most of them were frustrated with the sound trouble. Especially Jean-Samuel was unhappy, because many of his friend had come. I told them it was a good show despite the shitty sound, but I really wished it could have been better for them. We said goodbye soon., knowing we’d see each other again the next day.

pictures of this concert

Setlist

While this Way
Lover
Please Help me
Vetur að vori
Ljóð í sand
In the Wake of You
Mute
Þar sem enginn fer
Shades

acoustic set:
Sunday Morning
Kill Us

Entangled
Like Snow
Friðþægingin
Himinhvel
Things You Said
Passion

Góda veslu göra skal
Nú gleymist ég

Nivalis winter tour: 13 gigs down, 5 to go. Next stop: Poznan

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