Icelandic-Norwegian four-piece Banglist has certainly been building a reputation around Berlin as a band to watch since its formation in 2016 after members bonded over celebrities on their… well, you know.
So, when I decided to attend the show at the last minute on the recommendation of a friend, it struck me as odd how little I knew about them. As a committed fan of psych and post-punk, perhaps I’d decided somewhere along the way that Banglist’s sound, described as “soulful rock” or “scandi-pop” descended from the likes of ABBA and Robyn, wasn’t my bag.
You know what, here’s some advice: don’t decide based on vague Facebook bios or reviews that something isn’t your bag. Ever.
The evening started with solo act Peter Piek, a painter, performance artist, author, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter who really set the tone of general awe and surprise for the rest of the set.
She waved to friends […] gyrating and winking at the crowd, fitting the name exactly.
Right as I was about to dismiss his songs as too experimental or cerebral to be interesting as a single-person performance, he would come in and cut the loop with a very upbeat, catchy and accessible tune on guitar, or mix it up with an electronic dance-track that got the disco ball rolling and everybody moving.
He was truly fascinating to watch in his unique colorfully patterned garb, switching instruments, and utilizing his unexpected, ethereal feminine voice to its fullest capacity. The crowd was definitely warmed up.
After being the most unabashedly active and most supportive dancers in the front row, Banglist got up on stage and vocalist, Ásdís María immediately imposed her warm and comedic presence. She waved to friends, called out those who didn’t come and launched right into a soulful, sexy number, gyrating and winking at the crowd, fitting the name exactly.
True to her word, the lead singer then proceeded to deliver banger after banger in her powerful, ringing voice that was just deep and raw enough
The foursome then slowed things down with a melancholic song about Ásdís’ sister, “the only depressing one tonight, I promise”.
True to her word, the lead singer then proceeded to deliver banger after banger in her powerful, ringing voice that was just deep and raw enough, and accompanied by rough enough instrumentals, that it soared above the cheesy pop territory. As a matter of fact, I was starting to get Blondie vibes in a few numbers, with the funky bass lines and harder instrumentals by fellow band mates, guitarist Pétur Karl, bassist Per Monstad and drummer Ylva Brandtsegg.
Most pleasant of all, was the way the band interacted with each other, joking around about each others’ sex lives, shamelessly starting over when they didn’t get one song just right and laughing about it, and how they warmly treated the audience like friends (perhaps because most of the people in attendance were friends?).
By the time their most celebrated song “Turn the Lights Down” brought down the house, I found myself thinking this was the kind of pop that equalled if not exceeded radio top 10’s of today in it’s songwriting abilities and level of talent, and that these guys are certainly on track to be the next big thing.