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

John Grant – Bath Forum

Day 10/100 and I’m aware I didn’t post yesterday. It just wasn’t possible – I went straight from work to the train station and off to Bath to see John Grant perform at the beautiful art-deco Bath Forum. This also meant I returned home very late, and went straight to bed – not even a pre-bed cup of tea!

 

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The fancy decor at the Bath Forum

So whilst the Forum is a nice venue, it’s not one I’ll be rushing back for. We booked months ago and requested to pick the tickets from the box office, when we got there our tickets hadn’t even been printed, we had to wait whilst the box office chap looked up our seats on a plan, and then handwrote the ticket details out. Then there were the queues for the bar – because of a no-glass in the auditorium policy all bottles have to be poured into plastic cups – this slows down the service immensely. The venue would benefit with either working with the local brewery that they use to have plastic bottles or allowing pre-ordering of drinks that are then pre-poured. Or getting more staff on the bar. Or having a bigger serving area.. during the interval I needed some water to take some medication and after waiting for over 20 minutes in a queue, with John Grant due on stage in a matter of minutes, I ended up grabbing a cup and chancing the water from the taps in the toilets marked ‘not drinking water’.

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Anyway back to the gig – due to trains we sadly had to leae shortly before 10pm, meaning we saw little over an hour. But what an hour – I wasn’t quite expecting such a frenetic and colourful show. John was on stage looking very relaxed with a trucker cap on, and then he belts out that deep and rich voice that could melt butter. Several tracks from the new album were played, with the current 6music favourite and title track Love Is Magic  interspersed with older tracks and accompanied by some interesting graphics – in particular what appeared to be coyotes eating the flesh or something.

Being sat up in gods it was hard to see how the crowd was reacting, but from where we were it took Pale Green Ghosts to really get the crowd to show some movement.  However it wasn’t long after this I had to leave to grab my train after such a short but sweet set.

 

Superorganism at Oxford O2 Academy

Day 9/100.

I feel the need to state that I really like the band from what I’ve heard online, so much so that I fully encouraged my husband to buy the vinyl at the gig when he was uming and ahhing whether to buy it. They’re great! However they didn’t really prove to be super anything tonight.

The gig held great promise – as we entered there were signs ‘warning’ us that there would be ‘inflatables and balloons’ and we’d seen photos from gigs around the U.K. over the past week involving the lead singer ‘crowd surfing’ on an inflatable sea mammal.

However we had none of that , there were two band members who seemed to serve no purpose other than to ‘dance’. Eliminate those and maybe we’re getting there. Then after about 35 minutes the entire band apart from the singer left the stage – I don’t know why? Maybe to ‘perk’ up? But during this time alone with the audience to chat the singer started crying with emotion and then told us how unusual it was for her to do this.

At this point I suspected it was some weird ploy for sympathy before launching the dolphin crowd surfing thing, but no.

Just one final song then leaving the stage after a grand total of 40 minutes. They didn’t even play the entire album. For a gig that was advertised as having an 11pm curfew- finishing at 9:40 is really taking the biscuit.

Part of me is hoping that there is a genuine reason for the short gig other than ‘this is just how many songs we play live’ but we’ll see.

Ritual Union

Day 7/100

I didn’t plan very well and therefore don’t have much to post about, so here’s a few photos from last weekend when we attended Ritual Union, a one day multi-venue festival featuring a good mix of local and not so local bands. Pictures here include Warmduscher, Boy Azooga, Husky Loops and Peaness. Can’t wait for next years tickets to go on sale

100 Days of Blogging

Day 1/100

I don’t really know where this came from (but it seems like it’s a popular blogging idea), aside from the fact that I was trying to come up with some sort of challenge to make me blog more. And whilst I could wait for the good’ ol NaBloPoMo to start in less than 2 weeks, I was keen as it felt like now or never. Although to be fair, it could be now and next week forgotten, much like the Artist’s Way, a sort of self-help book to get the creative juices flowing again.. I lasted a week. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed the forced started the day with writing 3 pages of anything, pouring the contents of your head into a journal never to be seen again, but the second week – I just had too much stuff on and the luxury of time just wasn’t on my side. But with a blog, I’m going to give myself some leeway and allow posts that are mostly pictures if I so choose.

Airwaves17s-8854

Not that I’m short of stuff to write about really – I’m going to Iceland Airwaves in a few weeks and I’ve been trying to listen to all the artists playing at least once – so that sure is a lot of music to blog about. Above is a shot from last year of the amazing intrumental For A Minor Reflection ~ I only realised this week that I’ve not processed about 80% of the photos from that trip… as things tend to get away with me. I’ve also been to a few bookish and non-bookish events that I hope to update on.

Anyway I hope you enjoy my self affliction for the next 3 and a bit months (if I make it that far).

 

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

Airwaves 2017 day 1

We started off what will likely be our last airwaves for a couple of years (but never say never right?!) pretty chill. We collected our wristbands from Harpa not long after midday (after a much needed epic sleep) then headed to Bonús and Vínbúðin to stock our kitchen up for the long weekend ahead. 

Our first off venue gig then was Vök at Bryggjan Brughus, a really cool micro brewery where I settled in with an imperial stout as my first beer of the day. 


I’ve been dying to see Vök for a while and was ecstatic as they played most of my favourite songs … although I can’t remember the first song the remaining set list was: Figure, Show me, Ég bið þín, Polar, Before and then they finished with Waterfall ~ so much energy it was an amazing start to airwaves. 

Next up we decided to see where the new off venue described as the Viking brewery was as it was close by. We arrived as Dadi Freyr was starting, which turned out to be one of those surprise way better than expected shows. It turns out we’d seen Dadi before at our first airwaves in 2013 as one part of Retrobot.


It’s also worth pointing out what an awesome venue this is ~ with 10 taps and a flight of any four beers for 1000isk. It would also appear that any large beer is 800isk which beats prices in most bars for airwaves. 

So we stuck around for Úlfur Úlfur, although for the most point I have no idea what they rap about they have cool music vids and were great performers even taking the time to teach the audience how to sear in Icelandic. 

Then it was back to the apartment for some food before the official scheduled acts. We headed to Gamla Bio for Hugar, an ambient neo classical style two piece who combines beautiful visuals of the ocean.

These were followed by Valdimar an eight piece with amazing vocals! 

Also playing on of my favourite songs Syn, I highly recommend going to see these on their other official performance on Sunday night at Gaukurinn. 

New Music Monday ~ Airwaves Countdown Edition

In only a few weeks we’ll be heading back to Iceland once more for airwaves, so I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to listen to at least a couple of songs by all the acts on the bill I’m unfamiliar with. This has been no mean feat with over …. acts performing and at a conservative estimate I’m probably  quite familiar with about 10% of those meaning I had to whip up a spreadsheet to track who I’d listened to, their style and a rating out of 10. The plan being that I could then rank artists in some sort of order of preference to help choose who to see

So here’s a few new (to me) artists I’m hoping to check out, as nothing is guaranteed and even the best laid plans can go out the window

Sólveig Matthildur alerted my radar as part of Kælan Mikla, a synth punk band I’ve already heard a few tracks by, however these tracks are nothing like that.
While the synth is still there, these tracks are darker and as the EP title tells you she is “taking you on a journey, through unexplained miseries to the acceptance of sorrow”.

Pranke is a band I hadn’t heard of before, but with a descriptor of Kraut Rock, I was duly interested, particularly as their Soundcloud hastags were Math Rock/Pop – what could that mean?
Odd time riffs definitely, loads of energy seems certain.. I was also reminded of one my favourite Canadian experimental bands, Holy F*ck.
With only 2 tracks on their Soundcloud it’s hard to judge, but one band I’ll be aiming to see this year.

Hugar are Bergur Þórisson & Pétur Jónsson, both of whom have been making music in Iceland for many years.
It came as no suprise for me to read that one half of the duo supervised the BAFTA Award winning score to Broadchurch by Ólafur Arnalds, as the ethereal instrumental tracks feel familiar yet new with heart-rending strings and gentle uplifting piano.
Úti (Outdoors) and Upphaf (Beginning) have turned out to be my favourite tracks so far, but I’m looking forward to seeing more at Airwaves.

If you’re going to Iceland Airwaves this year, let me know in the comments who you are planning to see!

New Music Monday

I realised today that I don’t often post about music on my blog which is really weird, considering that I listen to music pretty much every day and that me and my husband plan most holidays around gigs both here and abroad. So I figured I would do well to start sharing some of my favourite music.

Starting off with an artist I literally discovered 2 days ago, one of those cool things that happen on twitter , where you see something by chance, follow the trail and discover something new.

Just one of (there are many) favourite artists Olafur Arnalds replying to someone (the tweet quote doesn’t really work that well), I thought Aerocity had an intriguing name (ok I was also curious about this person who doesn’t own a record player) and followed his bio discovering his bandcamp page where I grabbed a free track download of Stranger (see below) which I loved so much I  then bought the Escapism EP as well.

I will say, his style reminds me of Olafur Arnalds stuff a fair bit, maybe that’s why I like it. Self described as neo-classical glitch, I can’t say fairer than that, lots of strings too… I’m a sucker for violins and stuff that like that. I’ve listened to it all evening, which seemed to go perfectly with the sun setting. I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic like that too.

let me know what you think of it in the comments?