After shock from Iceland Airwaves 2016 is still haunting me – in a good way! This is what I like about the Airwaves! You are still discovering music 5 months after the festival. This is VAR and apparently I missed their show at #airwaves16.
This band reminds me of the early Sigur Rós 2000s era; dark, introvert yet grandiose soundscapes.
Their debut album “Vetur” released 13th April 2017 contains 12 tracks including this fine track “Back Home”
I really like the sweet and mellow approach to the sound. Check them out!
Iceland Airwaves – the most evocative music festival in the northern Hemisphere
The festival is situated in between Europe and US – the best of both worlds. It all started as a grass root festival in 1999, as a one-off event in an airplane hangar at Reykjavík Airport.
Today the festival has become more of a showcase festival for new artists around the world. A great place to prove them selves on the many venues at the festival, both official and off-venue.
Bands and stages
There are more than 220 bands on 79 stages; 15 official and 64 off-venue stages during 5 days! From 2nd-6th November 2016. And you can still find some secret events during the festival if you are lucky enough to get invited (or find one by occasion). Off-venues are typically only 30 minutes long.
I found my favourite shows, among many others, at Harpa, Idnó, Gámla Bío, Húrra, Bíó Paradís, Valshöllin and KEX hostel.
KEX hostel has become a legendary place for all the live recordings made by the Seattle-based radio KEXP.org, these recordings can be found at KEXPs youtube channel.
My personal favourite acts during Iceland Airwaves 2016
Connor Youngblood (US)
PJ Harvey (UK)
Aida Victoria (US)
Dream Wife (IS/UK)
The Sonics (US) at KEXP
Small Time Giants (GL)
and somehow I missed Vök at Slippbarin (off-venue) and Reykjaík Art Museum (official venue). But the good thing is, they are right here and here and everywhere. And lets eat grandma!
This is an odd side effect! You still find bands from the program. Bands you discover – after you are back home. All the bands you didn’t get to see during the 5 days of festival, then you know; it’s high standard!
If I only could see more than 220 acts! I hope to see some of them at Roskilde Festival 2017. Well except PJ Harvey and Dream Wife, who they appeared in Roskilde Festival 2016 (but i don’t mind seeing them again).
Ceasetone at Gamla bio
The Sonics at KEX hostel
Beliefs at Bio Paradis
Dream Wife at KEX hostel
PJ Harvey at Valshöllin
Middle Kids at KEX Hostel
Small Time Giants at Nordic House
Connor Youngblood at Harpa
Dizzee Rascal at Harpa
Festival goers, people and artists
I had a very great time together with my friends from Greenland and Denmark and thats one of the main things in a festival, besides listening to the inspiring music, having great moments with your friends and create new friendships.
What surprises me the most, is that you can have a chat or two with the artist as well. You get an impression that Iceland Airwaves is a big deal for the artists performing there, but not bigger than you can have a beer and casual chat with the artists. Talking about music, gear and instruments! Get the feel in the Airwaves rockumentary (40min).
Connor Youngblood – intimate live in the hostel hallway
I really enjoyed one special moment from our hostel. Just waking up having a brunch on the cantina went back to our room and could hear that someone was playing. The sound was familiar to Connor Youngblood who I saw at Harpa, but wait, it was Connor Youngblood making an intimate live recording for two cameramen and four other audience or soundcrew and there is me and my friend Martin – I think the song played was Stockholm. Total audience of 6-8 people?! How often do you have a moment like that? After the session we had a chat on whereabouts, gear and guitars, and to our surprise he speaks a bit danish! That was a special “Airwaves-Moment”. I’m really looking forward on his progression.
Edit: here is the performance or recording we attended just outside the room.
Maybe the most evocative city in the North Hemisphere. While being in Reykjavík I felt it was a new Berlin with a twist! Cool, vibrant, earthbound, casual and relaxed. The people you meet at the festival; the attendees, the media and the bands are so ecstatic and it makes the festival so inclusive. Everybody is welcome. Sounds like a festival kliché, but after being on couple of Festivals mainly Roskilde Festival and Copenhell. This is much different. It’s in the middle of the city, not the most beautiful city in scandinavian style context, but certainly one of the most charming and evocative. And the North Atlantic air is so fresh you don’t get hangover after a whole night party!
Sightseeing and shopping
If you can overcome and leave the festival for a day or two the typical sightseeing outside Reykjavík is a must! Rent a car take the trip to the golden circle (Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss) and the blue Lagoon. Or you can simply arrive couple of days before the festival (as we did) or depart couple of days later to see all the tourist stuff.
Icelandic wild horses – more friendly than wild
Hit the roads of Iceland
Blue Lagoon – refreshing!
While having break from festival treat yourself and take a trip to the golden circle, blue lagoon or take a walk around Bankastræti, Laugavegur and Skólavördustigur and spend some money for cool souvenirs and food! Icelandic people have mainly a great taste in art, music and food. Avoid the tourist shops it’s full of the national bird Lundinn a.k.a. Puffin, fridge magnets and other tourists stuff, instead go for the niche shops and support the local artist, designers and creators. Here is couple of tips among other great places.
Also one of the official venues. Check ou the Art museum of Reykjavík located in downtown.
The whale museum
If you have kids, this is really cool place to see how these wonderful creatures really are! All the whales are presented in the museum in full scale 1:1 size!
There is surprisingly cool graffities around the city, check them out while walking around the city.
12Tónar at Skólavördustigur 15
Probably my favourite vinyl store at Reykjavík. Get a cup of coffee have a chat and sense that vibrant presence of Icelandic music!
12Tónar – Grap a coffee and chill
Nice selection of Icelandic music
Kormákur & Skjöldur at Skólavördustígur 28
Cool and casual clothing for cool and casual men, you can also find personal care for your beard!
Orrifinn at Skólavördustigur 17a
Cool and raw jewellery, local jeweller and the creations are made just behind the desk
Solveig Holm – Ceramics and Sculptures
Cool ceramics and sculptures inspired by the unpredictable nature.
Inspired by nature
Great selection of local made ceramics
Fotografí – Fine Art Photography Gallery at Skólavördustigur 22
Maybe the coolest photo print to find in town! A cool way to get a photo souvenir, you can get a small A4 size photo print from 3000ISK.
The food is exquisite! Most of the city´s restaurants and cafés are high standard. Check out the burger corner and Kaffevagninn at harbour site and Sjávargrillid.
Sjávargrillid – you it, it’s Seafood grill
Sjávargrillid at Skólavördustigur 14
Get the shellfish soup to cure your hangovers. I got this recommended by the waiter. It’s heavenly good! A taste of ocean and salts and try the desert as well.
Iceland Airwaves took a big part of my music heart, so now I have to come back to nurse it. Tákk Iceland Airwaves!
Thank you Iceland Airwaves! It was beyond what I could have expect. You have taken a big part of my heart so I have to comeback next year to nurse it. Such an inspirational and moving festival. I’m really looking forward to see all the bands I saw at Airwaves in Copenhagen or Roskilde or a complete different venue – who knows. See you soon guys, love you all. Tákk!
Dream Wife (IS/UK). Hard hitting girl punk with Icelandic Rakel Mjöll as lead singer and Alice Go on solid Burns guitar and Alice on Bass (drummer X?). The trio who started as an Art Project from London is just not a thing – it’s punk in a new dress. Rakel and the three gets pretty energetic during the KEXP show and becomes five (you can actually see the fifth member acting casual). Can’t wait to see the live recording!
They represent the legacy of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. And some Psyched Up Janis. Formed in 2010. They have their own approach to the noise with clean and fuzzy guitars sometimes added unpolished synth and samples. They could fit in Pavillon Avalon stage. Keep your eyes and ears to Beliefs.
Electronic dou playing North Atlantic house. Moody, laidback and at the same time imprisoning. It reminds me the early Trentemøller black/house/electronic. Kiasmos is a different shade of black.
Their live performance and sound is quite mesmerising. I would love to see them at the Roskilde. David Fricke from rolling stones are also a fan of the sound!
Connor Youngblood (US)
James Blake can be closely associated and can be far from it at the same time. He plays acoustic and Electric guitar, loops it and adds some heavily effected synths. His vocaltechnique is really dynamic. All could work from gloria to avalon stage.
The Sonics (US)
The Godfathers of Garage rock. Fitting them in to a small sized to medium sized venue can really make thunders. They are tight playing and hardhitting it will hit the young audience with rock history right in the gut.
Small Time Giants (GL)
These guys have a story to tell. Strait from their hearts. From the remote and cold north. Greenland. Yes it is far away but the heartfelt story is recognisable and genuine as yours (yes! you! who read this blog). Last time Roskilde Festival had a Greenlandic band was singer-/songwriter Angu, which is back in 2005. The timing would be right if Small Time Giant represent some part of the danish fellowship. Something is happening in Greenland and the music scene is evolving.
Aida Victoria (US)
If they is a subgenre of country it wouæd be black country or black blues. Aida Victoria presence on stage is improsoning. Her music is beautifully dark and mellow added her crisp voice. I am really looking forward for her music to reach the alternative radio.