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).

Final Day of Airwaves (latest write up ever?)

Today being our last full day in Reykjavik and also the last day of airwaves we decided to make a bit more of an effort to see a few more bands. So we started out in Lucky Records once more – this time a four piece young band all the way from the West Fjords called Rythmatik. They were a bit late due to leaving their cymbals somewhere the previous night but all was good once they started. The lead singer / guitarist reminded me of a young Tom DeLonge maybe it’s the obvious youthful exuberance or that just sound similar, in that raw state? Maybe I’m just mad, who knows? Anyway, true to their name they had a strong rhythmic sound that got the crowd going! These guys have recently released their first demo and I’m really looking forward to their first Ep or album coming out very soon, I reckon you should head on over to their Soundcloud page and give them a listen or 6 as I’m officially making them my one to watch from Airwaves 2014!

Icelandic band Rythmatik perform at Lucky Records for Iceland Airwaves Off Venue Program
Rythmatik @ Lucky Records

After leaving Lucky Records (possibly my favourite Off-venue, venue of Airwaves – it has oodles of space to browse, even when packed with foreigners wanting to see the next possibly big thing alongside a proper performance area and you should check out their film soundtrack selection, some good stuff), we headed towards Eymundsson book store on Austurstræti (another good off venue place), we think we passed ‘Strangely & Shay’ busking on the street just up from Prikið, but we didn’t stick around as we wanted to check out Futuregrapher.

Strangely & Shay? busking on Laugavegur

Having heard a couple of Futuregrapher tracks and thinking he was a chilled out electronic sort of vibe, sounded like a nice afternoon in a book store, although how it would be pulled off, was eluding us. It was a pleasant surprise when he pulled out a book (although I still dont know if it was one chosen from the book store, at random, or a purposely chosen one), and appeared to read, very seriously from the book, to the backing of his music. It was quite theatrical and unexpected from this bloke who wears a trademark 66 North Beanie and floral sort of pajama pants. Either way, it was a performance that left me wanting more and once back in the UK looking up Futuregrapher tracks.

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1. Futuregrapher @ Eymundsson, 2. Futuregrapher @ Eymundsson, 3. Futuregrapher @ Eymundsson, 4. Futuregrapher @ Eymundsson

After this we tried the infamous Kaffibarrin. I’d like to point out that we’d previously tried to visit Kaffibarrin something like 4 times each unsuccessful (either closed, open but people queuing out the door, or open but the bar staff choosing to rearrange bottles rather than serve customers..), so we got here early-ish (ie a good 30 minutes before any bands started) and got a table and a drink. Yes, this time we got a drink, from the bar situated adjacent to the stage area, the one that once there are about 20 people in the venue becomes unobtainable… but yet the other bar, whilst open, still doesn’t serve people…. very, very odd. But anway, we ‘saw’ or listened to a band called Oddur who didn’t really make a lasting impact on our recall, and we didn’t end up staying for the next one due to how crowded it got, I’m sure it’s lovely on a non-gig, non-airwaves evening, but this was just uncomfortable.

So back to our apartment and then off for the main event. Last year, we were far too lazy and not really that bothered to queue for Kraftwerk tickets, this year the headlining queuing tickets were for Flaming Lips, a band I quite like and my other half has already seen live before we even knew each other. It was worth the early morning, wave soaking wait. I had no idea what to expect, the husband knew about the crazy exploits. The streamers, balloons, everything, the whole atmosphere of fun, was amazing (it made up for us walking the entire perimeter of the Vodafonehöllin in below freezing conditions due to NO signage), the fact that you could enjoy the show without being arse to cheek with your fellow music lovers was a huge bonus (Note Airwaves, – the Knife’s performance being here would’ve been 10x more successful). The fact that people could dance, or stand, or sit without being pushed / pulled. The venue felt to be around the size of Manchester Academy 1, but not at full capacity.

At the beginning I said ‘ I will die if they play Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’, ‘oh they never play that any more’ assures my other half (possibly winding me up?). So Obviously I squeed with joy when they did, then followed all the crazy shit, the inflatable characters, the Fuck Yeah Iceland balloon that kept going longer than expected, the Beatles reworking, Wayne in a hamster ball, but most of all the amazing atmosphere.

1. Flaming Lips @ Vodafone Hall, 2. Flaming Lips @ Vodafone Hall, 3. LOVE, 4. Flaming Lips brought their own balloons to the party

1. Flaming Lips @ Vodafone Hall, 2. Flaming Lips @ Vodafone Hall, 3. LOVE, 4. Flaming Lips brought their own balloons to the party

As we walked back to our apartment, very, very satisfied, through the park (we found out this evening that we were so close to the Reykjavik Art Museum – Kjarvalsstadir that we were kicking ourselves) , I honestly cannot remember a gig in recent memory that we were both so exhilarated by , and the atmosphere plays such a large part of that, that I hope Airwaves can and does use this venue for future events. Although I can accept that there are plenty of bands that play well in spaces that can double as a ‘club space’ there were times where Harpa was dangerously overcrowded, in the UK that amount of people in that small space allocated for the Knife simply would not happen – it was a fire hazard, plain and simple. As we tried to exit people were pushing people over to climb past them and get in, and security did nothing.

Anyway, signing off now. Final airwaves blog finished just shy of 8 weeks post event, bring on 2015, we already have our tickets and accommodation booked for next year. Hoping the organisers listen re: their shortcomings as a few tweaks around capacity and it would be The perfect festival, either way it’s too addictive to miss!

Airwaves Day 3 – the queuing

Today was the day that you could queue for Flaming Lips tickets – included in the price of your wrist band but with only 2200 tickets and 8000 wrist bands sold, obviously not everyone gets to go (you could purchase tickets as an extra prior to the festival as well). So based on last years queues for Kraftwerk we decided up early was the way to go, as at least you’d be queuing in the warmth of Harpa, good plan as the Icelandic weather was showing up who was boss today!
We decided to walk to Harpa via the seafront as we know from experience it takes half the time as it does to walk via Laugavegur – the wind was blowing a gale and waves were crashing against the rocks a couple of meters high, spraying the footpath with icey cold salt water – needless to say, once we reached Harpa at just after 8am we were a bit wet. And only 20th in the queue. Seems a lot of people had the smart idea of staying in bed little longer, but we like many others sat down with a book, grabbed a coffee and waited patiently (some ham & fried egg butties also helped).
Thankfully the Airwaves staff decided to not make everyone wait until
12 and handed out tickets a little early, as we left there was a substantial queue snaking out the doors into the cold, so we headed back towards our apartment feeling chuffed. We popped out head into lucky records and saw Brooklyn singer Eric vitoff performing with lots more energy than most of the people in the room put together, dancing and singing into his guitar at times!

After a refuelling back at our apartment we stopped by Lucky Records again, this time catching Bellstop – not my cup of tea but the husband enjoyed them, self described as folk rock.
We also caught the tail end of the intriguingly named Hide Your Kids (which tbh just reminds me of that bed intruder song from a couple of years ago), we only heard 1 song so I don’t feel I can make a judgement call on whether I like them or not – but they were giving away free CDs so something to listen to when we get home!
At this point in the evening my husband headed back to the apartment as man flu started to kick his ass, so I fought my way through the howling wind into the sanctuary of Frikirkjan to see Snorri Helgason perform. I’ve seen Snorri play at airwaves last year, and in Manchester supporting Asgeir, but both of those times he was very much a one-man-band with simply an acoustic guitar and harmonica. For his Airwaves show however there was the band Snorri Helgason (we noticed this a few times, solo performers create a band then the band performs under what is essentially the solo artist’s name) which included Mr Silla (not a mister at all btw) also on vocals as well as a bassist & drummer from some other well known local bands.
The church looked breathtaking with candles lighting the stage area, it was very atmospheric, with everyone seated in the pews. Having a full band and the addition of Mr Silla’s vocals brought a wonderful depth and richness to songs that already work well stripped down. It was a show that in my opinion was all to short!

FALK night @ Harpa

Next stop was Harpa (again!) for Mugison (again!) which was yet another fantastic show with the added depth of having a full band, some new tracks and plenty of old favourites meant the crowd were excited but Mugison brought it down a notch with a duet with his wife who is (like many other music teachers in Iceland) currently on strike to protest against unfair pay for music teachers. It was a beautiful moment to watch.

Last events of the evening for me were part of the FALK (fuck art let’s kill) night in the smaller, seated room in Harpa Kaldalon.
First up was power noise artist AMFJ who gave us a full on ear assault, having seen him perform before I felt the music balance wasn’t quite right and was struggling to hear the vocal performance over the music. Ok so I don’t understand Icelandic but still…
Last show of the evening for me was then KRAKKKBOT who is slightly more palatable to the ears and plays (like quite a few electronic musicians) from his laptop, except he holds it kinda like he’s playing guitar!
Also people started bringing him drinks during the performance – which started getting a bit surreal.

Time for Iceland Airwaves

This year has been a busy year with moving our lives to the other end of the country on a permanent basis, that’s my excuse for not updating my blog very often. This time last year I was in Iceland for the first time, for the Airwaves festival for the first time, where I attempted to write about it day by day. The festival was very full on and what I ended up with, was a note book with pages of writing that never made it online (although I managed to upload a daily quota of photos). This year I’m going to make more of an effort, and so tonight, I decided to write about some personal highlights from last year.

AMFJ at Dillon Bar

AMFJ at Dillon Bar

The decision to go see AMFJ was entirely that of my other half, he had looked up AMFJ online and liked the sound of him, I had no idea what to expect. described by some as ‘noisecore’ AMFJ uses feedback loops (lots of knob twisting on the mixing machine thing) with beats to create a loud and unique soundscape, whilst he sings (or shouts) over the top, his performance is very theatrical and mesmerising. What stuck with me most about his performance, upstairs in Dillon bar (a wood panelled rock bar), was that with all the commotion inside, I could see outside the window the wonderfully peaceful Icelandic landscape, the perfect juxtaposition. AMFJ is playing again this year, at Harpa, I intend to go see he perform again this year.

ÍRiS at Lucky Records

 

ÍRiS at Lucky Records

I’d heard a lot of chatter online about Iris, so we were stoked she was doing an off venue performance at Lucky Records (1 minute walk from our apartment), her performance was nothing short of stunning. She played segments of tunes, recording them then playing them back over each other to create a rich layered sound, with both a keyboard and melody harp, then did  the same with her vocals so it sounded so much more than just one woman with her two instruments.

Iris is playing again this year – a staggering 10 off venue shows over the 5 days, we will definitely be seeing her again!

Saytan at Cintamani

One of the amazing things about Airwaves, is that as well as the 200 plus bands part of the ‘official’ festival (where a paid for wrist band is required for entry), is the astounding off-venue program of free performances, which also has hundreds of performances, many bands playing several times over the days, and the venues! The venues can range from a bar (nothing unusual here) to a book or clothing shop, a hotel or hostel, music shop (not so weird) to pretty much anywhere a band can set up a drum kit, guitar and a couple of amps.

Saytan at Cintamani

We saw Saytan perform for the first time at Lucky Records, they were very rock n roll as part way through the first track (I cant say song, as there are no lyrics, so it sounds wrong), when the lead performer through his glasses on the floor and kicked them under a chair! You must realise, I had just had the shock of finding out how much a block of cheese costs in Iceland, so the cost of prescription spectacles must require some sort of bank loan! So we enjoyed Saytan’s instrumental rock so much, we decided to check out their final off-venue performance at trendy outerwear store Cintamani, where the band were performing in the window, amongst the existing window dressing, where they decided to play sporting some impressive cat style ski hats? Not really sure what they were, but made for an amusing show.

it seems odd looking back now that my fondest memories are all of off-venue stuff, but that’s just how it goes. Although Reykjavik Art Museum was possibly my favourite on-venue, venue, as here I ‘met’ (in the loosest sense of the word) Nanna from Of Monsters and Men, and spotted Bjork, inbetween all the great music, also as a venue it has plently of room to get around and never felt over crowded.

So to bed, as I have an early get up and 10-11 hour journey to reach my apartment tomorrow for our exciting week ahead