Live Review: BSÍ Breakdown Barriers at The Old Fire Station 

BSÍ Press Image
BSÍ © Ulga Hauksdóttir
Roaring alt-pop pair BSÍ Support The Vaccines on ‘Back In Love Tour.’ 

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Following their 2018 self-titled debut EP, Icelandic alt-pop duo BSÍ released their second extended project, Sometimes Depressed…But Always Antifascist, in May 2021. The band’s sophomore offering flows between angsty alt-pop sounds, booming vocals, and raw musicianship and its release serves as a firm statement that BSÍ are an undeniable upcoming force on the indie circuit. And, it was that unshakeable energy that earned the pair their place on tour with indie-rock pros, The Vaccines.

In partnership with The National Lottery’s Revive Live initiative, The Vaccines and BSÍ embarked on a month-long UK tour, playing at 12 of the country’s most favoured small venues. So, on October 5th, Atwood Magazine caught the tour’s final show at Bournemouth’s The Old Fire Station.

BSÍ Press Image
BSÍ © Ugla Hauksdóttir

Silla Thorarensen and Julius Pollux Rothlaender are the musical masterminds behind BSÍ and, as the two take to the stage, it is the band’s unconventional set-up that strikes an initial chord. To the surprise of the audience, after taking a seat at her drumset, Thorarensen adjusts her microphone: impressively, she is both the drummer and vocalist. It is only with great skill that a musician so effortlessly performs thrashing drum fills without impacting their vocals, but Thorarensen takes the task in her stride.

BSÍ © Ugla Hauksdóttir

On the guitar is Rothlaender, who continues BSÍ’s atypical arrangement. Without the presence of a standard electric guitar, Rothlaender thrives on bass. And, if there’s one thing you take away from a BSÍ live show, it’s the duo’s thick, booming baselines. The base pounds through each song like a bulldozer and, when coupled with Thorarensen’s powerful and at times mysterious vocals, creates an atmosphere that is entirely explosive.

While the whole set is a powerful introduction to BSÍ, it is on tracks ‘TAL 11’ and ‘Dónakallalagið’ where the pair thrive. Both songs feature piercingly resonant vocal deliveries and the band’s signature baselines that boom through the speakers and stick in your mind. Another standout moment is the duo’s cover of Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’. Putting their own spin on the track, BSÍ reduces the song’s tempo to create syncopated beats and a jazz-inspired sound, adding a whole new meaning to the famed pop track.

As BSÍ close their support set, leaving the stage free for The Vaccines to grace, what’s obvious is the room’s energy. At so many shows, opening acts struggle to engage the audience, and the room’s atmosphere feels somewhat lacklustre, but BSÍ strike a genuine chord with this crowd, preparing them for a night of unadulterated indie bliss with The Vaccines.

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