Airwaves15 wrap up

iceland airwaves

It might be around 2.30am. Outside the wind stirs up Reykjavík’s city pond Tjörnin. Raindrops hit the windows of Iðno, one of Reykjavíks most scenic, historic buildings, almost 120 years of age. The room I’m in is a beautiful, old one with high ceiling and a chandelier. The ground is of creaking floorboards. You can celebrate family or business events here. Or watching some cabaret or theatre performances. Or you can take place in the smart restaurant having a meal or just coffee.

Or you can stand among a head banging metal crowd, doing the same, while Óskar Logi Ágústsson and his band members of The Vintage Caravan are rocking the hell out of the old room. It’s Airwaves!


Vök @Harpa Silfurberg

About one week has already passed since then. Enough time to (try to) return back to reality. To let the countless impressions settle a little bit. And to lose a few words on my own Iceland Airwaves 15 time now.

The line-up was once more dazzling and extremely diversified. 240 bands, 10 venues and an incredible count of 55 off-venues – a fully packed five days festival was guaranteed. Again I checked in at KEX hostel, which is perfectly located to the downtown venues and the main venue and media center Harpa close to the harbour. And it always offers a fantastic off-venue schedule, showcasing some of the most popular Icelandic artists as well as bands from abroad. Amongst others, Hjaltalín, GusGus or Agent Fresco were playing at KEX this year and Canadian web radio station kexp was broadcasting again.

GusGus @KEX Hostel

Wednesday – Furious opening

Getting my wristband at Harpa with less queuing than expected and afterwards: hit the city! First show I’m taking part is the Icelandic post rock group For a Minor Reflection that plays at Hlemmur Square, the central bus station of Reykjavík’s city busses. They announce they would “play loud” – and they do! It is a powerful set. Drummer Andri Freyr Þorgeirsson is not only heavily treating his drums but also proves himself as a Mc Gyver like engineer when he fixes the ripped of guitar strap of Kjartan Holm with some tape. The exact counterpart then is Mosi Musik at the Lucky Records store just around the corner. Kind of quiet indie pop with electronic influences, too mainstream-like for my ears though especially vocalist Tinna Katrín shows up with a beautiful voice. Hjaltalín at KEX hostel is again a class act before I move to Harpa to finish the first day with AmabAdamA, Júníus Meyvant and Vök.

Thursday – Absorbed by the pit

The day starts again with AmabAdamA. Though I saw them the evening before, I don’t want to miss a nine person reggae combo on the app. 10m² stage of Laudromat Café. Good decision! Headed by the two amazing vocalists Salka Sól Eyfeld and Steinunn Jónsdóttir, the group is the embodiment of joy and good mood, making the whole crowd dance and cheer. Right next door the upcoming band is Vio. They are playing their beautiful, sometimes slightly melancholic indie rock at the Iceware outdoor shop, wearing jackets for sale. The day continues with Fura, Milkywhale, Grísalappalísa and GusGus. And it culminates in a remarkable performance of Icelandic church metal icons HAM. Their set at NASA, a legendary Iceland Airwaves venue, is mainly attended by locals. During the final song, Partýbær, I’m getting absorbed by a mosh pit of two dozens of Icelanders jumping and singing along. Nice!




Friday – space travel and lots of electronic

First thing I’m doing is a space travel together with dj flugvél og geimskip at Slippbarinn at the harbour. The one woman show of Steinunn Eldflaug Harðardóttir is simply stunning. Dancing around her synthies, the show is a bizarre mixture of flashing colorful lights, space travel stories, big beats, bubbling synthie sounds and a high pitched voice. It’s hard to describe, you gotta see it. Anyway, it is very, very entertaining! Following up is Sóley at KEX and it could not be more different. Sóley’s voice is thrilling, fragile. Her is music silent, melancholic, sometimes dark and it reaches deep into your feelings. I’m glad she’ll be playing in Germany soon. Then President Bongo and Sykur continue this day which is focused first and foremost on electronic tunes. Agent Fresco is, besides Sóley, the only exception. Sadly, due to delays in the venue’s schedule, their set suffers from rather bad mixing during the first songs. And they have to skip probably one or two songs in the end to avoid even further delay. So I’m even more looking forward to their European tour beginning the next days! Afterwards, Vaginaboys, Verveine, M Band and Oculus take over for the electronic sound again. Batida, playing at NASA, are an impressive and interesting mixture of oldschool DJ set using vinyls, live drumming, dance performance and political statements. The day ends with Weval at one of the most beautiful venues, Gamla Bió, making everyone shake and dance.

Weval @Gamla Bió

Saturday – Supertime and grand fin

Last day of Iceland Airwaves 15 – at least when your flight back home is already on sunday morning. And what a better start for the last day than Berndsen!? The crowd’s and artist’s hangover is blown away with the first tunes of “Data Hunter”. Berndsen, Hermigervill at the synthies and Keli gítar playing the guitar give it all they got. The people at Laundromat Café go crazy. Supertime! My next show is already in the evening and it is Kiasmos at Harpa Silfurberg, one of the largest venues of the festival. I was waiting impatiently for this show as I admire the duo. But to be honest, it is one of the weaker Airwaves moments. But not because of Kiasmos, they were great. Time to lose a few words on Harpa. In terms of Iceland Airwaves, Harpa is huuuuge and a lot of people are running from one of the four concert halls to another. The intimacy of other venues, like Húrra, Gaukurinn or Iðno, and the vicinity to the bands is missing. But this is exactly what makes Iceland Airwaves a festival that special in my opinion. Of course, there are great artists and performances at Harpa and the building itself is absolutely spectacular. Some artists can only be seen there. But if it is possible I try to avoid Harpa to soak up the real spirit of Iceland Airwaves elsewhere. Anyway, next stop is Låpsley at the Art Museum. Her show is top notch and very emotional. East India Youth at NASA is an electronic one man show of high intensity but unfornatunately not very well mixed. Responsible for the big bang at the end of my four days of Airwaves are – great as always – The Vintage Caravan and CeaseTone, a band you certainly don’t want to miss in the future (keep an eye open for an interview we’ll publish soon here on tó!)

CeaseTone are breaking it down on stage with their powerful indie-rock, decorated with electronic sounds. Got my eyes closed, enjoying the music and the moment. It might be around 2:30am. Then the last song is over, the last sound fades away over Tjörnin, outside the windows of Iðno and disembogues in the crowd’s frenetic applause.

iceland airwaves

East India Youth @NASA

Iceland Airwaves 15 is over.

About 50 weeks to go for Iceland Airwaves 16…


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