Day 21/100 – Heading Home

This was oringially entitled ‘a couple of hours in Reykjavik’ however we didn’t end up having a couple of hours wandering as usual. Our plan of leaving our apartment to do our traditional last-day-in-reykjavik-enourmous-breakfast at Prikid, was scuppered in part by tiredness and hangovers and also booking onto an earlier bus home than usual (airport disaster last year made me cautious), so we decided to just head straight to the bus station and eat at the cafe there. Except it was closed. Around 10 minutes after we arrived and about 3 hours after the opening time on the sign, someone came and stuck a notice over the sign simply saying ‘closed’. Yay, fun.

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Goodbye Reykjavik, the pond on our last day

So our last day of fun was spent in the airport, ok it wasn’t all doom and gloom, turned out we were sat next to the lead singer of Mammút which we realised after someone came and spoke to her. We had a nice lunch – they have a good cafe with self service, which is a bit like if an McDonald’s you helped yourself to the food from the silver slide. Whilst we were eating, Airwaves announced the super early bird tickets were on sale at around £65 each (so pre-2013 prices) we decided to go for it. Even though we’d sworn to have a year off for a break. I’ve got a big birthday next year so the plan is to save hard and tie it in with a trip elsewhere or a long roadtrip.

Keflavik Airport Roof Glass
Glass Roof of Keflavik Airport

Keflavik airport has changed a lot since our first trip, from memory (or maybe they’ve changed where UK departures leave from), there was this one small food shop where you could buy hotdogs, slices of pizza and various drinks/crisps/candy. Now there is a plethora of food outlets including Joe & Juice which seems really popular in Iceland. We didnt buy anything in the airport (unusual), and witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen. The plane initially flew north towards Akureyri and we witnessed this amazing pink sky, some ethereal cloud formations (think fluffy layers of low and high clouds) over the snowcapped mountains. I certainly wasn’t the only person who spent the first half an hour of the flight with their camera fixed to the window!

Flying over Iceland
Wow-some clouds over Iceland

So a very long day, after leaving our apartment at around 11am, we finally got back to Oxford 11 hours later, tired but happy – til next year Iceland!

Super-early bird tickets can be bought at Icelandairwaves.is

Day 4 of #Airwaves18

Day 20/100 – well it seems my challenge has failed somewhat. I could’ve sworn I posted my day 4 review but as this was empty I guess not and in case you couldn’t tell, post holiday fatigue set in and stayed in. I’ve had a super busy week at work and this weekend had family staying so no real time to blog and now all that excitement is catching up with me and I’m coming down with a cold. But, I’ll try and remember what I enjoyed most about the last day of airwaves.

Clue, it was a lot. We went a bit off-schedule with our planning. This year the festival reduced the off-venue program, whilst the press have said this was for financial reasons, we heard from some locals that apparently it was because the Icelanders themselves apparently don’t buy tickets anymore and just attend off-venue shows – not sure how true that is? I mean they’d still need to book time off work etc to attend shows, another ru mour we heard was that Icelandic bands playing on-venue were limited to one off-venue show, however that ended up not being true, but it certainly was like in the past where bands played multiple shows througout the festival, and it’s not like the off-venue replaces the full festival – most of it shuts down at 7pm. For us the off-venue compliments the offical shows, making it easier to see more people if you see someone at lunchtime friday, that might free up saturday evening to see 1 or 2 other shows for example.
Anyway, we started with an Airwaves favourite – Una Stef, performing at Lucky Records, which turned into a full on dance party, which audience synchonised moves!

Una Stef @ Lucky Records

Una Stef at Lucky Records

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Tap list at RVK Brewing

We made a detour to RVK Brewing, a micro brewery with tap room that was easily a highlight of the trip (much more than Brewdog Reykjavik which was oddly disappointing), the flight of beer was a lot cheaper and in much cuter glasses. They were also playing the new LP from Benny Crespo’s Gang which reminded me to pick up a copy on our way back past Lucky Records, where we also saw a snippet of Godchilla.

We then went for another Airwaves tradition and stopped off at Reykjavik Fish for a lovely fish supper, before heading back to our apartment to drop off our bags – here we were delighted to find the Northern Lights playing out!

Aurora over Reykjavik

Northern Lights over Reykjavik

With this giving us giddy levels of excitement, we then headed to Hurra, as it was a venue we’d not been to, we caught the end of Munster’s set which was alright. We then headed across the road to the Art Museum to see Emmsjé Gauti, an eminent Icelandic rapper performing in the Art Museum, the venue was large and not very crowded when we were there, which meant we could sneak right up to the front for the feel good show (even though we didn’t understand the lyrics). We then went back across the road for Vio, who we saw last year off-venue and were great – really energetic indie rock.

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Dr Spock at Gaukurinn

Promptly followed by Dr Spock who are not indie rock at all, but loud and crazy punk rock, handing out marigold gloves and singing whilst wearing an elephant mask, and omg the crowd loved it and so did we!

After this we headed to our final gig of the the evening, timings being what they were meant we had just missed the end of Ceasetone (thankfully I managed to see them earlier in the week), but not too late for Benny Crespo’s Gang. I had first heard of them a couple of Airwaves back, being a fan of LayLow – I had no idea at the time that she was in a band that were much more rocky than her laidback, soulful music. Another crowd pleaser of a band, this small intimate room at Bryggjan Brugghús was pleasantly full of people dancing and singing. A fantastic end to the festival for us.

(We may have already bought early bird tickets for next years’ festival).

Day 19/100 – Day 3 #Airwaves18

Day 3 was a slow starter, feeling slightly hungover and very tired we started the day with a traditional swim at Vesturbærslaug, if you can call lying around in a hot tub swimming! We were pleased to find that the HagaVagninn was back in business and enjoyed a post swim burger – served by none other than Emmsjé Gauti, a rapper who will be performing at airwaves on Saturday night.

After a wander around town via the hand knitting association of Iceland (I think wool is the one thing cheaper in Iceland than back home), we called into Skúli bar, a craft beer bar that has been commandeered as the official IA clubhouse. They’ve been having some official performances on there broadcast live on an American radio station – we arrived in time to hear the end of Reykjavikurdætur, after they’d finished we joined the queue to get in for Mugison and that did not disappoint. Anecdotes about some grim stage adventures had everyone laughing and of course he played an excellent set.

After this it was time to head to the OmNom chocolate factory – a place we’d visited for a tour on our last trip to Iceland. We’d been lucky enough to score tickets to a tea ceremony and performance by JFDR to celebrate the release of her EP (which I’d bought yesterday at 12 Tonar!) which is a collaboration with OmNom and comes in the form of a matcha chocolate bar. Not only was the performance incredibly beautiful and intimate, but we were fed some nice chocolate too and of course we got a goodie bag containing the afore mentioned EP!

Next up music wise we headed to Harpa which is playing a tiny role in the festival this year. Here we saw aYia with their dark synth music followed by Vök with their upbeat funky electro indie music.

Then we rushed over to Gamla Bio to prepare to queue for the upcoming HATARI, here our VIP wristbands were golden – as the queue snaked down the street and around the corner we got straight in. We headed upstairs to the VIP section where we could look over the balcony to an enormous crowd watching the Voidz who we didn’t enjoy. After that though the crowd thinned a bit and we got to the front for the energetic bondage laced HATARI with their unique brand of … cyber industrial I don’t know what to call it, but it was an excellent way to finish the day.

Day 18/100 – Day 2 #Airwaves18

Well today started early! Given that in past years off-venue usually starts around lunch time, we’d planned our music walking tour of Reykjavik by 12 Tonar in order to not miss any bands. It turns out we could’ve opted for a early afternoon slot instead of the 10:30 one we chose – however it turned out to be a good choice as for a start there were only 4 of us being taken around the city by Larus, co-owner of 12 Tonar.

I think I’ll leave the tour to its own dedicated post as it was so interesting, so be satisfied with a picture of the wall inside smekkleysa

So our first off-venue show ended up being at a very packed Slippbarrin catching the end of Axel Flovent, but the main reason was to catch Ceasetone. As is the way with the small off venue shows it was a pared back low key show but it still packed a punch and they played by favourite The Bright Side.

Later on for official shows I landed at Gamla Bio for Warmland who were great, followed by Stereohoney a U.K. band – both of these got the crowd really enjoying it despite it not being very busy at all!

On my way back I popped into Iðnó and caught the end of Snail Mail and the start of Tamino, not really my thing/tired.

Day 17/100 – Aka Day 1 #Airwaves18

Well we made it, I’d say despite sitting on the tarmac at Heathrow for an additional 30 plus minutes it’s one of the smoothest journeys we’ve ever done, no doubt due to lack of hold luggage. We were in Reykjavik before 5pm and (despite google maps giving us the run around) managed to get to city hall for our wristbands and goody bags AND bonús and to find our accommodation by 6pm At which point we flaked. We were starving and of tired feet. So I missed one of the artists on my own ‘people to go see’ list.

However we started the night by heading to Bryggjan Brugghús which is now an ‘official’ rather than off-venue, for Ingibjörg Turchi.

Next we decided to camp out in Iðnó for GlerAkur and later Une Misére.

GlerAkur were interesting, sort of like For A Minor Reflection but maybe less intense/ rock. But there was a lot of synchronised head bobbing.

In between these and Une Misére were Kælan Mikla, a female trio in the punky goth synth persuasion. Starting their set with some incense burning it was a theatrical set, however after playing one song that really got the crowd going they ignored the vibe and just went back to introspective goth incense waving.

Finally after a ten minute countdown Une Misére took to the stage with gusto. There was head banging and a mosh pit and some of the band members decided to climb on the speakers which resulted in security pulling me out of the way for their descent I guess in case I got injured? But it was such an energetic show I ended up leaving the husband at the front whilst I chilled out near the back for a breather. 10/10

Even more Airwaves picks part 2..

 

part two mostly because I’m doing an 100 day blog challenge and need an extra post and I’m tired – I know, cheating myself! but here goes, 6-10 of my ‘bands I haven’t seen before but really want to’

6. Blaskjár

 

7. Eivør

 

8. Febrúar

 

9. GlerAkur

 

10. Ingibjorg Turchi

 

So I hope you enjoy my picks, there are loads more  hope to see but currently on my way to Iceland!

Day 14 – More Airwaves recommendations

Still playing catch up with my blog challenge but hey ho. Time to get things rolling – some more recommendations from me. I’ve actually still got about 20 bands still to listen to, out of the 240 artists, and with only 2 days left to go that’s going to take some determination.

Una Stef
Una Stef Off-venue, 2017

Una Stef, is commonly referred to as the Icelandic Alicia Keys, so common I think you’ll struggle to find an article about her that doesnt mention keys or Una’s other influence – Beyonce. Upbeat soul and funky tunes, its been amazing to watch her stage presence progress over the many times we’ve seen her perform over the years!
Check out her bandcamp here
Una plays Gamla Bio Wednesday 7th November at 23:30, and off-venue at Canopy on Saturday 10th at 18:00.

Úlfur Úlfur
Úlfur Úlfur Off-venue, 2017

Úlfur Úlfur, are an amazing rap duo. I’m not usually enamoured with Icelandic rap (or any modern rap to be fair), but these guys remind me more of the Beastie Boys than Kanye. I don’t know what they’re rapping about, unless I look up their lyrics and attempted to painstakingly translate with google(which I have done). But that doesn’t stop them putting out cracking songs, including Brennum allt (rough translation, Burn everything) this one with a horse in the video. They play the Reykjavik Art Museum on Wednesday 7th November at 21:15.

Rythmatik @ Lucky Records
Rythmatik at Lucky Records, 2014

Final recommendation for this post at least – Pop-punk youngsters Rythmatik played their first shows off-venue back in 2014. They then went on to win the annual music competition Músíktilraunir (past winners have included Of Monsters and Men, Mammút and Vök) in 2015. Since then they’ve released a couple of singles and earlier this year their debut album. However rumour’s abound this could be their last show, so go see them play at Húrra Wednesday November 7th at 11:20 pm!

Day 12/100 – Off-venue at #Airwaves18

In a bid to stem the excitement of my forthcoming trip to Iceland for another round of the eclectic music festival that is Iceland Airwaves, it’s another airwaves themed post from me.

If you’ve not been to the festival before, off-venue is the name to a weeklong series of gigs in various venues throughout the day, that are free for anyone to attend, not just those with a festival wristband. In most cases the off-venue program tends to finish around 7-8pm as the official venue events start up for the evening. In the past there has been as many as 60 different venues, but this year, with the festival’s new owners allegedly cutting costs to recoup losses from previous years festival, it’s down to 25 venues for 2018.

Mr Silla @ Iceland Airwaves 05.11.15
Mr Silla performing in a clothing store, 2015

Obviously a lot of airwaves fans are disappointed, as for many of us this is an integral part of the festival, a chance to see bands pared down, in intimate venues. Some of our personal favourites have been Ægisgarður (home to the Viking Brewery with their colourful stage area, and kegs that acted as instrument stands), Reykjavik Letterpress who also plied the audience with free chocolate bars, Eymundsson book store on Austurstræti, and Lucky Records (who are staying with the program this year)… it’s all so very different to anything else I’ve ever been to.

Futuregrapher @ Eymundsson
Futuregrapher at Eymundsson, 2014

It was also reported by Iceland Review that another reason for so few off-venues was that the costs of taking part in the off-venue program had skyrocketed – an increase of over 730% for venues taking part for the whole week! Of course for smaller venues the cost is prohibitive, and it seems there is rebellion with unofficial off-venue shows taking place which I will list below and update with any new info I receive (many thanks to the wonderful people of the Airwaves FB group for social travellers for hunting this info out!).

Between Mountains
Between Mountains at Ægisgarður, 2017

Vinyl Reykjavik
T 6/11 – DJ Pussy Valore
W 7/11 – BERNDSEN @9pm with others, doors at 6PM
T 8/11 – Yagya, Skurken – Downtempo electronica
F 9/11 – Elves and Dragons night with Sturle Dagsland and some other wizard people.
S 10/11 – S. Hel and some other ambient DJs.

Bókabúð Máls og menningar
10/11- 18:00 Sturle Dagsland

Sólsetrið (Skrauthólar), Grundarhverfi
10/11 – 22:00 Sturle Dagsland

Why not? Plötur
6/11 – 19:00 – Sólveig Matthildur, IDK IDA, asdfhg, Bömmer
9/11 – 16:00 – FINISHED BEFORE 20:00. Skátar, Grit Teeth, :mikilsorg
10/11 – Sideproject, Celestine, xGaddavírx, Man Kind, Laura Secord

KAFFIBARINN
4/11 – DJ Pilsner
5/11 – Sonur Saell
6/11 – Arni Vector
7/11 – Hunk of a Man
8/11 – Black Loops / Introbeatz
9/11 – FM BELFAST DJ SET
10/11 – DJ Margeir / Ieynigestur

Aurora House
10/11 17:00 Svavar Knútur

One perk of being a wristband holder this year, is that you get 10% off food and drink at the off-venues that serve.

Day 11/100 – Gearing Up For Airwaves

So it’s technically day 12 of my 100 days of blogging, but too many nights out (2) as quite the introvert means I’ve been exhausted for most of the week and I’m behind but this weekend I promise to catch up. I’ve even started pre-planning for next week which will include the madness of spending 5 days in Iceland for the (now) 4 day music festival that is Airwaves.

So it feels fitting to post some recommendations of bands that are playing this year, starting with Vök. Vök are I think now a 3 piece, sometimes 4 piece electronica – poppy type band, with sax and amazing vocals. We saw them last year off-venue at a packed out Bryggjan Brugghús and I also had tickets to see them in the UK earlier this year but was too sick to go. I really want to see them again this year, but with schedule clashes nothing is guaranteed.

Vök
Vök play Harpa on Friday 9th November at 10:30pm

Another band we saw last year were Hatari, the drummer in Hatari also plays guitar in Vök ~ this is how it plays out in Iceland, you can see the same person perform multiple times over the festival in many different guises. Hatari are some obscure mix of industrial, dancey-goth, dressed in a mixture of bondage gear and some semblance of steampunkish.

HATARI
Hatari play Gamla Bio Friday night at 12:20

My final recommendation for today is Mr Silla. I’ve seen Mr Silla perform now more times than I can count, on stage as a solo artist, as one part of Múm, with Snorri Helgasson, with another band I can’t remember the name of and everywhere from a proper theatre stage, a church and a clothing shop.

Mr Silla @ Iceland Airwaves 2017
Mr Silla performs at Gamla Bio on Thursday at 8:20pm

Mr Silla’s solo stuff is electronic poppy, soulful music and released her debut solo album back in 2015. She has a fantastic voice and over the past couple of years its been great to hear her experiment with the vocals on some of her best known album tracks. Breathe has to be one of my favourites and that intro still never fails to give me googsebumps. Rumour has it there will be new music at this years airwaves – you’d be mad to miss her!

You can still get tickets to this years’ festival from Tix.is

Airwaves 2017 day 2 

For our second day of airwaves we were quite lazy, heading back to the Viking Brewery as it was close by and had fairly decent priced beer. Vio were the first band on, and to be fair we had intended to leave and go elsewhere afterwards. Vio played a good set but the whole time I was hoping for … well the only song I know by them ‘You Lost It’ which they finished with.  We then ended up hanging around for Between Mountains which in my head I had them pegged as good, but they exceeded expectations! Two girls from the Westfjords who recently won the Icelandic music awards (that to be fair a lot of airwaves artists have won) with one who plays the keyboard and other who plays accordian and xylophone. They were very melodic and happy and we were left impressed.
Between Mountains

Next up was Airwaves staple, Una Stef ~ with an expanded band, she belted out her BEyonce inspired song (mama funk), her happy song and her song she wrote when she was a teenager.
Una Stef Then it was eventually time to leave the cosy but fast filling brewery, we had planned to attend the Reykjavik Grapevine’s off venue show at Gallery Port with Soley, however it became clear that it was going to be shoulder to shoulder standing room only in a space that is smaller than the bedroom we are sleeping in tonight, we left. So our next show we caught the end of Rugi’s set at Reykjavik Letterpress whilst waiting for Mr Silla. I was hoping to see more of the venue/space but sadly not. They did have lots of hand printed cards you could buy though. And free chocolate bars. Mr Silla was her usual enigmatic self, and did a cracking set that had the children (and a few of the adults) in the audience dancing. She mostly performed songs from her previous album (which is ace), and I think we got one new song ~ I’m certainly hoping there’s more. After this we had a quick pit stop back at our apartment for food before heading out to Gamla Bio.

Mr Silla

Une Misère were fabulous dark metal, no idea what the lyrics were, but suitably scared by the front man’s stares and climbing on the barrier like he was going to dive into the crowd.

Next up was Hatari. Now these were super scary. Entering the stage in spiky bondage gear, I was reminded of the scary guy in Mad Max. Again I have no idea what the lyrics were about, but I’m fairly sure they were angry about something. There was also a couple of dancers, who’s routine also included sucking on lollipops and handing them out to the crowd.

HATARI

I have to say by this point, we were wondering what could possibly top it off, but then we hadn’t seen Grísalappalísa before. Although I’d seen recommendations for the band I wasn’t overly excited by what i’d heard online prior. However the live show is where they come to life ~ with a front man who reminded me of that guy from the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine. There was crowd surfing, multiple times, tearing off of shirts, leaping around and two parts samaris on percussion for the last song ~ not to mention that one of the guitars ended up in the crowd with a random person playing it, this gig was definitely a great big party!

So for us the night ended with the comparatively mellow For A Minor Reflection, who’s instrumental soundscapes are truly something else. A band we’ve seen numerous times off-venue over the years and they never dissapoint. Their post-rock killer tracks entranced most of the audience I strongly suggest you give them a listen.

For A Minor Reflection

More photos here