On their way to the M for Montreal festival, Retro Stefson and Lay Low made a stop at the Garrison in Toronto’s west end, sharing the stage with locals, Lindy and Sigrun Stella Tuesday, November 16.
The show was presented by Iceland Airwaves and hosted by the Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto.
“We found out from Karen at ICCT that the Toronto date was being added and Lindy and I were glad to be part of it,” Sigrun Stella told us back stage.
Sigrun Stella is working hard on a new release of original material coming out soon. “I learned piano when I lived in Iceland,” she told us. “It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto that I learned guitar. It sure is easier to carry around. You have to be Diana Krall to have an entourage that can drag a piano around every time you play.” Sigrun Stella was trying out new songs and a new look, sporting her new glasses on stage for the first time.
Gimli native, Lindy Vopnfjord, was tuning up for a gig later that week at Toronto hipster hot-spot, The Drake. He is promoting his fifth recording, Suspension of Disbelief. Lindy got his start as a duo with his dad at the Icelandic Festival back in Gimli many years ago.
Maybe somewhat ironically, it was the Canadian Icelandic openers that perpetuate the all-things-perfect myth about Icelanders.
The feature acts, Retro Stefson and Lay Low are true examples of the diversity of Icelandic lineage today. Retro Stefson closed the show and their “Bossa Nova/Gheto-tech/Surf Rock” sound is young, vibrant and devoid of Icelandic folk roots. The crowd loved this closing act and danced Tuesday away into Wednesday to the pop beats of this catchy band.
Lay Low drew us to the concert and the performance was a stand-out. Lay Low is etched in Jesse’s memories of this year’s Snorri visit and the sound-track to his tour. Lay Low is the alter ego of singer-songwriter Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, who was born in London in 1982 to an Icelandic mother and Sri Lankan father. The family relocated to Reykjavík when she was a small child.
Please Don’t Hate Me, was Lay Low’s debut, topping Icelandic charts and becoming the bestselling original album in the country that year and winning three out of four Icelandic Music Awards nominations in the process. Flatey, Lay Low’s current CD and DVD offering wouldn’t be out of place in anyone’s music collection.
Once one of the main cultural centres of Iceland, what was and what still remains of Flatey, is the focus of this haunting and beautiful tribute – a minimalist performance of some evocative songs, kicking off with By and By, which as Lovísa tells us, “is about trying to be honest and how hard the truth can be.”
The Toronto show will be part of IndieCan Radio’s episode 207 (XM Satellite Radio, independent radio stations across Canada and podcasting to 126 countries at http://www.indiecan.com/podcast.htm)