The annual, four day touring festival Taste of Iceland arrived in Toronto on November 9-12th to highlight the best of Icelandic culture, and showcasing the Nordic nation’s cuisine, music, art, film and literature in free events around the city.

As a part of the festival, The Horseshoe Tavern was hosting two Icelandic bands, Reykjavik based rock band Mammút, and a post punk band Fufanu, who were both visiting Toronto and Canada for the first time.

Mammút performing at Horseshoe Tavern. Photo by Laura Collins.

I took the opportunity to listen to the band’s discographies on my four and a half hour train ride from Ottawa to Toronto and was intrigued to see them live, and also had the chance to interview both bands before the show.

Opening the night was Mammút, who were heading over to Central Europe on tour straight after their Toronto show. The band’s latest album, Kinder Versions found its way on my playlist immediately after listening it for the first time on the train and the live show was not to disappoint either.

The front woman Katrina Mogensen has an intense stage presence as she rocked back and forth into the music, her beautiful voice entwined with the instruments, and for their one hour set, it was like the audience was one with the band. Mammút delivers dark and mellow, earthy harmonies, yet airy and light at the same time, combined with Mogensen’s poetic lyrics making the whole show a magical experience.

Mammút performing at Horseshoe Tavern. Photo by Laura Collins.

Reykjavik natives Fufanu started originally as an electronic duo almost ten years ago with front man Kaktus Einarsson and guitarist Guðlaugur Einarsson, later bringing on the drummer Erling Bang as they started experimenting more with various instruments.

The band released hugely anticipated new album Sports earlier this year, and have been performing extensively in North America and Europe.

Fufanu performing at Horseshoe Tavern. Photo by Laura Collins.

Once the band hopped on stage, it was obvious that the soft spoken guys I had just interviewed backstage are world’s hottest rock stars on stage. Singer Kaktus has an amazing ability to engage his audience to the point the you feel like you are a part of the performance, and the band’s tour bassist Jón Atli Helgasson’s charismatic presence made the show entertaining to watch.

The band worked seamlessly together to deliver a solid hypnotic post punk spectacle, Kaktus at audiences faces, guitarist Einarsson standing mainly motionless and emotionless, and Bang drumming tirelessly throughout the set. As a second last song of their set, the band performed their single Sports, which has been on repeat in my brain for the past week, and I’m definitely not unhappy about it.

Fufanu performing at Horseshoe Tavern. Photo by Laura Collins.

The Toronto duo Ice Cream closed off the night with some heavier electronic vibes, and as I walked out of the venue, the party was clearly only beginning at The Horseshoe Tavern.

Interviews with Mammút and Fufanu coming up soon at soundcheckentertainment.ca.

By Laura Collins.

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