KEXP at Iceland Airwaves, Day 1: Fufanu

Photos by Matthew B. Thompson

Rounding out the first night of of KEXP’s Iceland Airwaves broadcast live from Kex Hostel is Icelandic punk band Fufanu. The band began life as techno outfit Captain Fufanu, but after the theft of the computer containing their record, they cut “Captain” from their name and jumped into a completely new genre. They’ve opted for a more post-punk/new wave sound, eliciting comparisons to the likes of Disclosure and Joy Division. Fufanu has received a fair amount of attention from national and international publications alike, from The Reykjavik Grapevine to Rolling Stone. Recorded by Ghostigital’s Curver Thoroddsen, their debut record Few More Days to Go comes out November 27 on One Little Indian.

They opened with “Now.” Frontman Kaktus Einarsson, son of Icelandic punk heavyweight Einar Örn, was climbing the furniture from the first minute. Heavy, droning synths accented with clicking beats perfectly frame Kaktus’ deep, stoic voice. Though Fufanu’s sound is most often identified as post-punk, there’s a blend of genres at work here. From moment to moment you can hear bits of post rock, post-punk, grunge, and old-school punk on any given song.

Next was “Blinking,” marked by grunge-heavy guitars combined with new-wave vocals and accented by punching drum beats. The crowd was bobbing enthusiastically, but the folks in the front looked a bit overwhelmed by Kaktus’ exuberant dancing. “Circus Life” exploded into our ears with screeching, reverby guitars. Kaktus’ voice was almost completely drowned out by the loud, textured, shoegazey guitar. But while you couldn’t hear him much, you could definitely see him, dancing, shouting, and practically hanging from the rafters. This song had a major Joy Division vibe, but you can definitely hear the band’s techno roots in the synth-laden second half of the song.

“Northern Party” was a more straightforward new wave song, with punching guitar and more melodic vocals. Icy synth interludes dropped into heavier guitars while the rosy-cheeked vocalist danced on the barriers. When asked if they were ready for more, the crowd gave a unanimous yes, and Fufanu continued with “Plastic Gold.” A noisy, guitar-driven song with a pulsing digital beat and a distinct New Order sound, accompanied by bursts of Jagger-esque hip shaking.

They finished the set with “Your Collection,” a grungey song culminating in a fervor only matched by Kaktus’ dancing. The crowd went wild, and our first night of the broadcast ended on the highest possible note.

We’ll be back tomorrow at 6 AM PST/9 AM PST with Icelandic composer Úlfur Eldjárn. Join us live here! 

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