Kanga (US) and Kælan Mikla (IS) graced Tampere’s Klubi with their ethereal and mystifying presence on May 4th . I was introduced to Kælan Mikla the last time they were in Finland, opening for Alcest right before the lockdowns in 2019. One of those bands who were way off from what I typically listened to but stuck with me afterwards and ended up being one of my favorite gigs of the year. They released a new album Undir Köldum Norðurljósum later that year, which turned out to also be one of my favorite albums, so it was needless to say I would at least attend one of the two gigs they had in Finland (though I actually ended up attending both, so I may sneak in a few comparisons).
Kanga, much like Kælan Mikla the first time around, was not music I would typically find myself searching out and getting into. It was also quite a different style gig than what I would naturally attend or write about. From what I’ve gathered, Kanga is an accomplished producer and remixer who has worked on many well known films, and is quickly gaining popularity in the darkwave and electronic scenes. My interpretation of her music would be, kinda…West Coast Pop meets the grittiest corners of dark industrial. Her performance conveyed just that. Dark, mysterious and almost melancholic while also constantly emanating the pulse of both the trendiest night club and most raw underground rave. I did enjoy the the vibe of the gig and the audience (more so in Helsinki, since the floor was packed and it contributed to the dance club vibe vs. Tampere where people were still very slowly trickling into the venue) though, at times I got more DJ vibes than performance, as if I should not really be watching her, but focusing on the music and dancing, which is a bit unfamiliar to me.
My first thoughts of Kælan Mikla’s gig was that they had matured so much in their performance from the last time I had seen them. More polished, more in sync and seemed more confident with themselves as musicians and people. Of course, their newest album is quite a bit darker than their previous music, which was also prevalent in their stage presence, attire, and the whole atmosphere of their show.
If you aren’t aware of the meaning or source of the name “Kælan Mikla”, it is the Icelandic name for the Moomin character Jäärouva or The Lady of the Cold. This knowledge tinged my perception of their gig with a touch of frost. Laufey (vocalist), moved around the stage at times, as if she was skating on ice (and only when I got closer did I realize she was barefoot in stockings, which totally fit with the witchy aesthetic they had going on!). Her nails were also long and clear and, when caught in the light, resembled icicles. Her presence, stoic and queen-like, otherwise perfectly portrayed the mystical yet powerful essence their music provides.
The performance of “Sírenur” particularly stuck out to me, the mood and the lighting made you feel as if we were all swimming underwater, peaceful yet melancholic (not to mention the sound of waves in the background and the fact that the song is indeed about, you guessed it, the Sirens of the ocean). The other most memorable moments where during “Sólstöður”. There is this intense guttural, banshee type screaming on the album and honestly didn’t expect them to do it live but they did and it was soul shattering and inspiring all at once. As exhausting as it must be to do that night after night, I truly appreciated it and was in awe by its affect live! The other thing that stuck out was Sólveige (synth/keys) playing flute live during “Stormurinn”. That also gave me chills and went beyond expectation. Margrét (bass) was also incredibly inspiring to watch. I can’t really put it into word but she seemed to really connect with the music and put great energy and emotion into playing, as well as when she sang backing vocals, or contributed to screaming. I kind of wish these two would be highlighted a bit more though they all have their spotlight moments. They are all incredibly talented and passionate musicians and I am super eager to see what they do next and catch them live again!
Photos and report by Serena Solomon