The best week of the year is ahead of us! In almost exactly one month, Reykjavík once more hosts one of the most vibrant and thrilling music festivals worldwide. This year’s lineup of Iceland Airwaves is again huuuuge in quality and quantity with more than 200 artists and bands from Iceland and abroad, a schedule covering five days at 14 official venues all over downtown Reykjavík and a yet to be released off venue schedule. We don’t want you to get lost in possibilities so here are our Airwaves ’16 staff picks, boiling hot like a hot dog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur!
Himbrimis music is described as “dark scandinavien pop”. And that is what you get. A mix of electro, rock and pop with a dark feel to it. Underlined with Margéts captivating voice and stage presence, it’s definitely a show you don’t want to miss.
The icelandic trio creates a very unique sound by combining electro with a clarinet and topping it off with Jófriðurs incredible voice. On their first two records the lyrics were in Icelandic. With their new album “Black Lights”, released this summer, they changed to English, which disappoints not in the slightest. I’m really looking forward to see Samaris‘ new set and to listen to their new music live.
Vio won the Músíktilraunir competition in 2014. With bands like Of Monsters and Men, Vök and Agent Fresco winning the previous years, they are in good company and you can expect a lot of them. Vio began as a semi-acoustic trio, but got a fourth band member and moved on to alternitive rock eventually. In spring Vio released some new songs, so there’s a lot – new and old – to look forward to.
I think everybody knows Dikta and Kiasmos? If you really still don’t, check them out at the Airwaves – they are for sure one of my favorite artists playing there and you should absolutely not miss a gig of them!
My perfect Airwaves day would definitely include a concert of the indie-pop band Tilbury as well. They are playing soft melodies with electronic and folk pop influences and were just in the studio, so new songs can be expected. A third album should be released even this year!
Not really Icelandic sounding songs can be heart from Rythmatik. This indie-rock band sounds more like coming from Great Britain, but instead they’re from Akureyri and the West Fjords. In 2015 they won the Icelandic music competition called “Icelandic Music Experiments”. To form an opinion, listen to their debut EP that you can find on Bandcamp for free!
Another favorite band of me is Oyama. Describing themselves, they simply play “noisy woozy music and good songs”. An Airwaves night could not end better than with a dreamy concert of this excellent shoegaze band. After their debut album “Coolboy” in 2014, there might be coming a new one in 2017.
For a minor reflection almost blew me out of Hlemmur bus station when they opened my personal Airwaves last year with an off-venue show. But they already had been my favourite postrock band from the island before. On the other hand, Rökkurró rather puts you in a relaxed mood with electronically-tinted indie sounds. When you throw musicians from both bands into one bucket, you’ll get…the most beautiful garage punk rock of course! Tófa‘s sound is hyperactive and noisy, raw and bloody and tinny – just like coming from a garage. It scratches, it squeaks, it rattles and one can already see Gaukurinn bursting on Saturday 8 p.m.
When an Icelandic band or musician sweeps the prices at the annual Músíktilraunir competition you should listen up. Being on top here means you’re amonst the really hot new shit. Helgi Jónsson even made it twice this year: 2nd place, only beaten by Hórmónar, with his new solo project and winner of “Best guitar” category. If you call yourself a friend of Progressive Rock, you can start appropriately to your (official) Airwaves ’16 at Iđno on Wednesday 8 p.m.
Taking a look into the future: After a four days festival odyssey, from the early afternoons far into the long and dark November nights of Iceland, I’d consider myself as basically tuckered out. In a few ours, all the magic will already be over again way too soon and I’m flying back home, not really caring about any turbulences or whatsoever because I’m simply too tired. But now, sunday morning at 2.30 a.m., Agnes Björt Andradóttir enters the stage at Gamla Bíó, like a rave goddess, the stomping beat gets going and I know I will party one more time. And even now it’s not an effort, because it’s SYKUR. It’s a no-brainer, a safe thing.
We missed Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson alias Prins Póló at last years Airwaves line up. I am therefore all the more delighted to have the chance to see Pétur + his friends live on stage this time. You should listen to his album París Norðursins (named after the movie París Norðursins) which was quite successful across the borders of Iceland, to get into the right mood. His music can be described as electro pop with elements of rock and rap. His latest release Dúllur is a nice dance track and the perfect preparation for your Prins Póló experience.
As we told you a few times before, Icelandic Rap is becoming a big thing in Iceland with artists like Úlfur Úlfur, GKR, Emmsjé Gauti, Sturla Atlas, Aron Can and many more. But hip hop producer and rapper Lord Pusswhip really sticks out with his psychedelic and confrontational sounds on his album Lord Pusswhip is Wack, inspired by chopped ‘n’ screwed, horror films and VHS nostalgia. Fully inspired by Berlin where Thordur lives since a year now, he´s playing a few gigs at airwaves and I strongly recommend you to see one if his shows. Why? Well you’ll see.
Dreamy but at the same time crispy, that’s how you could describe the sound of Indietronic band Vök. Accompanied by saxophone, guitar, bass, keys and synthies played by Andri Már, Ólafur Alexander and Einar Stef, Margrét Rán is singing both English and Icelandic. Vök’s live performances convey feelings of melancholy, magic and modernity, an unique concert experience! (Friday, 9:50 p.m. at Reykjavík Art Museum)
Ok, that’s our finest selection! But don’t forget, one of the best things at Airwaves is just drifting through the day/night. Sometimes the best discoveries just come accidentially! And for even more preparation, check out our massive Spotify playlist featuring almost all the artists performing at this year’s festival: