Since 1999, when it first premiered in the hanger of the Reykjavik Airport, Iceland Airwaves has grown up as one of the premiere music festivals in the world. The list of now-famous musical acts that performed at Airwaves in their earlier days is long (linked in this Wikipedia article) -- the festival is an excellent opportunity to be seen by the thousands of music afficionados (nerds), bloggers, other bands, and (gasp!) journalists that make the (surprisingly short) journey to the gorgeous capital of the north. While I am known amongst friends and acquaintances as an Icelandophile completely independently of the Airwaves festival, the organization, quality of music, quality of fans, and convenience of movement within the Iceland Airwaves program has left me even more smitten with this northern paradise than I had been before. Forget the language typically used to describe Iceland -- glacier imagery, desolate landscapes, volcanoes, faeries, elves -- these lazy metaphors were irrelevant as for much of the music I saw performed at Airwaves 2010.
Most of the over 300 bands featured at the festival are Icelandic, but there is a solid minority of European, UK, Canadian and U.S. groups playing each year (this year included Nive Nielsen, a lady from Greenland!). The weather in Iceland in October, while not nearly as harsh as you might imagine, must be taken into account -- daily rain, temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, puddles, but no ice. Unlike Coachella, where the bands perform in outdoor tents, Airwaves takes place within ten "on venue" (festival pass required) clubs and about 25 "off venue" (no festival pass required) clubs.
I hate to admit it, but the Reykjavik local music scene is ridiculously good. Of the bands I saw play, not a single one was worse than "pretty good." Most have been "very good" or "extremely good," despite covering a wide variety of genres (folk, punk, death metal, electronic, indie rock, classical). The intimacy of the scene is even more striking. Everyone there, whether in a band or not (and most people seem to have been in a band at some point in their life careers) knows each other, and the amount of knowledge about local bands possessed by even the most lay citizens is much more than would expected from their counterparts back home. All the venues are within walking distance of each other and high levels of technical competence and professionalism appear also to be commonplace.
I flew into Reykjavik on the afternoon of October 12. This gave me one evening to situate myself, drop my bags off in a conviently located apartment in Vesturbaer, eat some traditional Icelandic svid (roasted sheep's head) and get one good night's sleep before a busy 5 days of music, hot dogs, and extremely well prepared music fans.
Even at this early hour, this small, extremely hip music store in downtown Reykjavik began to fill with hipsters (including, of course, a variety of bearded males). As sole band member member Adalsteinn Jorundsson set up his gear (a laptop, some large speakers), I didn't know what to expect. He seemed like a fairly mild mannered guy. But then...loud fuzz, heavy synthetic drum beat and then...screaming! It seemed as though the all Icelandic lyrics were of significant import, almost like a screamed poem, Jorundsson thrashing around, sweat beading on his face as the crowd watched, without blink or movement. Occasionally I could pick out an Icelandic word that I understood. This did not at all assist in my overall comprehension of the performance. Which I enjoyed for its intensity, rawness and most of all, proximity.
I had a coffee at Babalu Coffee, and from the balcony saw hundreds of children wearing bright yellow reflective vests marching for peace.
Captain Fufanu (Icelandic), The Ring Lounge at Hresso, 3:00 p.m.
By now, the weather had turned slightly rainy, and people herded into the enclosed tent next to the Hresso Bar in the heart of downtown to watch this very young looking duo with new wavy haircuts, apparently very popular in Iceland in the house slash electronic scene. Not exactly my type of music, but that being said, good. They reminded me of the kind of music that would be playing on loop at the Abbey. The sound of the rain against the plastic tent above was neat. I sat at a table with an American girl, who writes for Short and Sweet NYC, a New York based blog covering the festival. She was probably the most prepared person I've even seen: pages, and pages of notes for each of the hundreds of bands playing. She said she had spent sleepless nights listening to each of them to decide who she wanted to see. And had several interviews with bands already set up.
Bloodgroup (Iceland), Havarí, 4:00 p.m.
By now Havarí (the hip music store) was completely packed with all types, as Bloodgroup (from Eggislstadir) set up. The vocals are shared by a male and female singer, and accompanied by guitar, more than one violin, synthesizer and more. The sound is usually a more or less straightforward electro sound (variously sounding like Fischerspooner, LCD Soundsystem, Human League or !!!) but occasionally veering into a slower, prettier style highlighting the female singer's beautiful, high voice. Between the skilled harmonies, dance beats right up my alley and great chemistry within the band, these guys were my favorites for the day. They played a number of times throughout the festival.
Mammut, Ring Lounge at Hresso, 5:00 p.m.
Very popular local band, with a strong punk rock sensibility, but also not unlike the early punk/experimental rock days of early Bjork. But much more accessible than Bjork´s work with Tappi Tikarass and Kukl. Before going to this show, a friend warned me that while Mammut was popular because of the lead singer's distinctive voice, she personally found this voice somewhat annoying. I thus came with reduced expectations, which were wildly exceeded. Kata's voice is amazingly well suited for punkish rock, capable of wild screaming and even some decent singing. But she does have the potential to turn off a listener, as might Bjork or Corin Tucker. At one point after a 20 to 30 second scream/shriek I heard someone say "she actually just did that." The band´s energy was enormous. I have no idea what any of the songs were about. I don't think any of them are over the age of 21.
Lara Runars (Iceland), NASA, 8:00 p.m.
NASA is a much bigger club than the other venues I had visited, and due to long lines, I ended up staying there most of the rest of the night. Lara Runars appears to be very popular in Reykjavik, with a somewhat cheesy pop style, occasionally bordering on the sound of the Pipettes, but not quite as charming. The room was already fairly full by eight (a sign of things to come). She did an alright, but slower cover of Prince's "Kiss," which sort of worked. I liked her bowl haircut, and funky outfit, but some of the lyrics were kinda dumb, especially the one about repeatedly telling her boyfriend that he doesn't have to pretend to be attracted to her, she already knows he's gay.
Yoda Remote (Iceland), Apotekid, 8:20 p.m.
This (very young looking) duo played an awesome set of 8-bit heavy dance music, beats laid on laptop, with melodies on keyboards, most of the vocals run through vocoder type effect (sounded like Captain Ahab). I wonder sometimes if the Nintendo that we all played as kids conditioned us to want to hear similar sounding music as adults? I could hardly resist dancing to this stuff, but the crowd was relatively subdued. I suspect that this is a result of Icelandic people not being used to "going out" until well after midnight. It was hardly even 9:00 yet.
Sykur (Iceland), NASA, 8:50 p.m.
Another electro band, lots of fun. Had a female singer who dressed and acted like Jessica Rabbit, and who looked more or less like what most Americans think Icelandic girls must look like (blonde) and a guy wearing a white suit and a bowtie. She sang a song about Reykjavik, but somehow it sounded much dirtier than that. The band name means "sugar".
Benny Crespo´s Gang (Iceland), NASA, 9:40 p.m.
These guys are supposedly semi-legendary in Reykjavik. I thought they were alright, sounded more or less like Blonde Redhead. Female vocals were by Lay Low, another semi-famous Reykjavik singer (that I once saw open for Emiliana Torrini in L.A.). Lots of syncopated drumming, very tight playing, and long guitar jams. It was after their set that I went upstairs for a bit and met a bunch of Icelandic people, including a group of 17-20 year olds that bombarded me with questions, as well as giving me lectures on how awesome Iceland is. (I had to keep reminding them that they were preaching to the converted.) After maybe 15 minutes of conversation, their leader (who was also the youngest) announced that they would "all" be adding me on facebook. So far, two of them have done so. I saw the leader interviewed on local Icelandic TV a few days later.
Bloodgroup (Iceland), NASA, 10:50 p.m.
Just as good as the first time I saw them today, but even better on this big stage, faces painted.
Agent Fresco (Iceland), NASA, 11:20 p.m.
By now it is getting much harder to pay specific attention to each of the bands. Agent Fresco played somewhat mathy, hard rock, were all dressed in black. The singer climbed out into the crowd at one point. In my notes I have the word "cruel" written, but I have no idea what I was referring to. The crowd went nuts. The drummer had huge hair. During one of the final songs, a chorus sounding like "WE ARE, WE ARE!" was chanted by all, first pumping.
Mammut (Iceland), NASA, 12:10 a.m.
Mammut was even better the second time around. The band had dressed themselves up more so, had painted their faces, and the energy was even higher. The crowd loved it.
Day 2: October 14, 2010
Another mindblowing day spent with the Icelandic music scene.
Olafur Arnalds (Iceland), Nordic House, 1:00 p.m.
Olafur Arnalds cut his teeth playing punk and death metal as a teenager before branching out into the classical music that has made him even more famous. This performance was located in the Nordic House, one of the buildings on the University of Reykjavik campus, high ceiling, wood walls, packed full of chairs. As Olafur played the piano, accompanied by a string quartet, the lead melody switcheding between him and one of the violinists, the room quietly observed, photographers snapping away from the edges of the room. Despite feeling that I should enjoy this music more, I sometimes can't help but feel it sounds like background music, and not the sort of thing to which I want to pay full attention. Perhaps confirming my sense, at the following Q and A session with one of the writers from Icelandic publication Grapevine, Olafur admitted that what he really wants is for his music to be used in a car commercial. He described (and complained about) Icelandic performers being "krutt" in interviews. I believe the word translates directly as "cute" in English, but I think "twee" might work as well. Seems to involve a sort of false humility, to further the stereotype of Icelanders as otherworldly, glacier dwelling, elvin creatures. Everybody in the room seemed to know each other, whether from the label, or other bands, or from Grapevine.
Film (Greece), Havarí, 2:00 p.m.
I arrived slightly late for the Film performance, and was slightly sorry to have done so as I thought they were pretty good. I mean, the sound wasn't anything I'd never heard of before. For one of the later tracks in the set, lead singer Etten introduced with "here's a song you can dance to. I know it's a little early but you have to prepare for tonight, right?" These were actually wise words spoken, given how the night would turn. During this song, a fat, nerdy guy with glasses started dancing with her like a crazy guy. I tried to get a picture of it, but failed to get a good one. I gave my email address to a photographer I saw who seemed to have captured it (everyone in the room was amused), but still have not received it. On the final song, the vocals vaguely reminded me of Madonna´s "Bedtime Story".
Svavar Knutur (Iceland) and Rob Maddison (UK), Hemmi and Valdi, 3:00 p.m.
In this tightly packed coffee shop on Laugavegur, a soft-in-the-heart crowd watched Svavar and Rob trade sets of heartfelt folkish singer-songwritey music. Svavar played the ukulele and guitar and sounded like an Icelandic Sufjian Stevens, also demanding much engagement by the audience (singing along, etc.) He wasn't wearing his shoes. At one point he asked that we all sing along for the "la la la" part of the song because the syllable "la" can mean just about anything to whoever is singing it. So we did this. He joked about the worst thing about playing in coffee houses is the sound of the steam wand going "chshssshshshshshsh" during latte making, right in the middle of the song. Nic Harcourt would have lost his socks over this guy. I much preferred the Icelandic songs he sang over the English -- it covers up the cheesiness of the lyrics and leaves the actually pretty melodies to be enjoyed. And I think it is the best sounding language for songs that I know. Rob was in a wheelchair, and played the guitar. Given the wheelchair, I'd be tempted to compare him to Vic Chesnutt, but you know what, it just wouldn´t be an apt comparison. This guy was much more upbeat, without cheesiness, although the lyrics were all clearly very personal. He seemed, fortunately, kind of happy (and also not dead -Ed.). I noticed during this show that a lot of people at Airwaves have notebooks, not just me. And everyone is snapping pictures (as am I) for the first few minutes of each set.Zach and Foes (Faroe Islands), Sjoppan, 3:30 p.m.
On of the best performances of the off venue side of the festival so far. Sjoppan (which just means "shop" in Icelandic) is a hair salon on the second story of a pizzeria on Laugavegur. Zach and Foes' rockabilly slash punk set up....I want to use the expression "blew the roof off" of Sjoppan. Black Lips step aside! Well, what to say, these guys rocked (or "Rokk'ed"?) super hard, even the baby in the audience seemed to be enjoying it.
Zach had an awesome mustache and denim shirt. Maybe I need to purchase a denim shirt? And how on earth did they discover such talent on the Faroe Islands?
S.H. Draumur (Iceland), Havarí, 4:00 p.m.
S.H. Draumur (translated, S.S. Dreamer, like a ship) is a legendary Icelandic punk band, formed in 1982, released one album in 1987 and then broke up in 1988. For the first time in 17 years they were rehearsing, and I think the Airwaves reunion show received quite a bit of buzz here in Reykjavik, at least among the crowd old enough to remember them. I had heard one song of theirs while hanging out with the mountain guides on a 4 day hike I took in Iceland in July, so was intrigued. Because the venue was so small, and there was no raised stage, I was unable to see them (or obtain a picture), but I could tell that the performance scheduled later that evening at NASA would be awesome. How to describe well played punk music? I can't. Supposedly the lyrics are clever (all in Icelandic), but I could tell the melodies were catchy and the guy's got a really cool sounding voice. Sounds a bit like Televison, I think.
Endless Dark (Iceland), Ring Lounge at Hresso, 5:00 p.m.
Who knew that I'd enjoy a screamo show this much. These guys all seemed super young, but the screaming singing, thrashing around on and off the stage and headbang-inducing guitar playing was awesome. I don't know if my ears are still ringing from this or from the late punk shows of the evening. I met two Salvadorean guys studying in Reykjavik during this show and asked if they know anywhere around here to get a good pupusa. I think my first beer of the evening was at this show.
Reykjavik! (Iceland), NASA, 9:10
The Icelandic friend with whom I attended this show told me the lead singer of this band was a really nice guy. He´s also an incredibly intense performer. I can't remember the last time I went to a hard core punk show (was possibly the Warped Tour 10 years ago) and probably thought that day would never come again. But no...we pushed to the front of the crowd and for the entirety of the set we were thrashing around like maniacs, everyone was pushing and shoving, the singer crowd surfed and screamed, his microphone cord snagging people as he wandered around the floor. This was an amazingly intense, sweat soaked show. Haukur Magnusson, the guy from Grapevine who interviewed Olafur Arnalds was in the band, but now his eyes looked crazed.
S.H. Draumur, NASA, 11:00 p.m.
It´s not a great picture, but he looks a little bit like a thin Frank Black, right? Amazing, amazing performance. Again, crowd was insane (or maybe just we were? it was hard to tell at that point), punk rock songs but more interesting melodically and lyrically (or so I presume) than usual. I've actually sinced purchased S.H. Draumur's album, and am in love with almost every song.
Day 3: October 15, 2010
My first impression of this Seattle band was as a fairly standard modern psychedelic band, heavy guitars, a tambourine, a theremin seeming machine. While this wasn´t exactly an inaccurate impression, after the band corrected a problem with low vocals in the first two tracks, the performance became very high quality (I know I say this about almost every band, but it´s true every time!). At one point, the lead singer observed that "This is the coolest record shop I've ever been to. There´s not a bad record on these walls." This sentiment was fairly typical of everybody I met at the festival. During the last song "King of Borneo," the guy on the left was heavily featured on super intense vocals, causing his face to turn red. This song was awesome.
Murder (Denmark), Sjoppan, 2:40, p.m.
Despite the name, Murder was a pretty mellow Danish duo, who more or less completely filled up the Sjoppan hair salon on Laugavegur. These two guys harmonized vocally, accompanied by acoustic guitar, kind of reminded me of Iron and Wine. At the very least they would have very easily fit in with the bearded guy, folkish, pretty singing movement that got so popular around 2008, but I couldn't get terribly excited about them. The room was filled with the smell of hair and hair product.
Bastardgeist (USA), Sjoppan, 4:00 p.m.
Another duo, this time from Chicago, but in my opinion much more exciting. Tall skinny girl, with super skinny legs and shortish blonde guy with an intense expression, carrying all sorts of electronic equipment to produce the blips, and beats, and fuzz that backed up their vocal harmonies. I wish I knew what those machines were called, because they were super cool. According to my notes one of them was using a handheld synthesizer keyboard. At times their sound reminded me of Sade, other times more like Massive Attack. While at times their vocals got out of sync, I liked them a lot.
Chateau Marmont (France), Ring Lounge at Hresso, 4:00 p.m.
On the occasions on which I hear the complaint that DJ performances are pointless in that the DJ doesn't "do" anything besides play pre-recorded music, I explain that this is not the case, and that in fact there is a lot going on behind the console. Not in the case of Chateau Marmont! One of about 5 bands featured in the French Showcase at Hresso, their electronic music, which alternatively sounded like Kraftwerk, Daft Punk or even Phil Collins, was really good. It just didn't look like they were doing anything besides standing behind the turn tables and computers. Based on my photograph, you can see that they look like nice guys. And I think I'd give their music another listen once I get home.
Gable (France), Ring Lounge at Hresso, 5:00 p.m.
These guys (two bearded guys, one tall, one stouter, and a girl) were absolutely ridiculous, but in a good way. Experimental, avant garde sounding sort of like Einar Örn's contribution to the Sugarcubes, started off with the shouting of some nonsense (in heavily accented English), to the arrhythmic beating of handheld drums. Later there was some guitar strumming, more absurdist lyrics, some handheld horns, a cover of Elvis´"All Shook Up" while the singer wore an Elvis mask. It was really cold outside, but I was enjoying the hilarity of Gable, and despite the potential pretentiousness of it, they were entertaining as fuck. The blank stare of the guy on the left of the photo persisted throughout the show.
Mugison (Iceland), Iðno, 8:50 p.m.
This venue was located near the lake, a big white building, which I believe to be a theatre. The cloak room had no clerk -- just two long rows of hangers upon which to place one's jacket. Another example of the honor system working quite well in Iceland. My Icelandic festival friend's friend, who worked there, gave us each 2 glasses of white wine. Though the place was packed, we made it up fairly close to the stage where Mugison, a large band was playing. While on the record they sounded fairly folksy, almost like Sufjian Stevens (yet another), on stage they sounded more like the Black Keys -- loud, blues rock. For one song they brought out a big bald guy who sang along hard core punk style (this song was introduced (in Icelandic) as a "song about love" -- everyone laughed. For the last song, they brought out a choir of girls to sing a song about the lead singer´s favorite aunt who had recently died. I'm not sure if the decreasing quality of my photos has to do with my camera getting dirty, the venues being darker, or me just doing a bad job at it.
Bloodgroup (Iceland), NASA, 9:40 p.m.
I know, this is now my third time seeing Bloodgroup, but this time only stayed for about 15 minutes. Mostly it was the same material as the previous shows, but this time they did an excellent cover of Men Without Hats´ "The Safety Dance", which was very satisfying, and very appropriate for the sound of the band.
Here´s a video of Bloodgroup performing "Safety Dance" on another occasion:
Teeth (UK), Venue, 10:30 p.m.
This electro (duo? I think) were okay. I was most interested by the fact that the guy in the group was dancing around with a 12" macbook in his hands, kind of reminded me of walking around my apartment back in the day with the same small laptop. Fairly typical electro-dance music, but after the shot of Opal Vodka Shot and the shot of Topas I had before the performance, I don't know how closely I was paying attention.
Everything, Everything (UK), Reykjavik Art Museum, 10:50 p.m.
I'm slightly embarrassed to report that I don't remember so much about this performance. They seemed good, I recall dancing, I recall everybody yelling and screaming, and I recall people seeming really happy. But it was a huge venue, lights were flashing everywhere, and what can I say -- I was just having a good time and not worrying too much about taking notes.
Hurts (UK), Reykjavik Art Museum, 11:50 p.m.
Hurts were also good, and I have a slightly better recollection of them. The Iceland Airwaves booklet compared them to the Bronski Beat and Pet Shop Boys, but I found this comparison to be somewhat weak. Just because the guys are dressed in suits, are of slightly ambiguous sexuality and use a lot of electronic backing does not the Pet Shop Boys make. But yes, it was a bit spectacular show, everybody went nuts and I had a great time.
Day 4: October 16, 2010I tried to make Saturday's afternoon easy by sticking around for the Canadian Blast! at the Ring Lounge at Hresso (6 Canadian bands over 5 hours).
Timber Timbre (Canada), Ring Lounge at Hresso, 3:00 p.m.
This show was so packed I could hardly see the band, thus my excuse for the crappy photo. To me, it sounded like fairly standard indie rock, maybe a little like Devotchka. The band featured a violin.
Diamond Rings (Toronto), Ring Lounge at Hresso, 3:50 p.m.
One of the highlights of the day, maybe even of the festival. This super young looking guy from Toronto comes out in a leather jacket over a purple t-shirt, purple socks, with a purple guitar and purple guitar strap, super new-wavy hairdo, shaved on the sides, long on top, blue eye shadow amongst other makeup. My first impression was, oh boy, this guy is going to be a bit of a joke, what's up with the outfit, especially when he's up there all by himself. Now, while I admit to being a sucker for electro style music, he was super good, especially when it comes to showmanship. True, his voice sounded more or less like Julian Casablancas, and his look came straight from 1981, but between the on-stage dancing and guitar shaking, and flawless delivery, he had me and just about everyone else I knew dancing. After one of his songs he announced that "That was an Usher cover...just kidding...but that's what I was going for."
Basia Bulat (Canada), Ring Lounge at Hresso, 5:30 p.m.
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that Basia Bulat's presence at the festival was one of the moving inspirations for my decision to make the trip. I've been listening to the 4 or so songs she recorded for Daytrotter back in March 2008 (including a ridiculously good cover of Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You In the End"). Basia Bulat has this amazingly rich, soulful voice, which she generously uses for both covers and originals, and accompanies her voice with autoharp (yes!) or guitar. Here, she was further accompanied by a violinist and a ukulele player, both also singing harmonies. Almost as soon as she started singing, the crowd appeared transfixed by her voice, shaking their heads in disbelief. But she makes it look so easy. She says "This is very exciting...I've always wanted to go to Iceland." She sings a pretty Polish song from the 1960s about a couple at the zoo looking at the animals, looking back at them (who is the observer and who is the observed?!!) Sadly, she didn't play "True Love" but I was very happy.
Rökkurró (Iceland), Reykjavik Downtown Hostel, 6:00 p.m.
Finally, I made it into this tiny venue after having failed the day before. Coffee and beer sold to the left, a big glass window to the street on the right. I'll use one of my less favorite overused descriptions of vocals -- "ethereal" -- to describe Hildur Kristin's vocals. I think this band also helped to exemplify the idea of "krutt" (cutesy) introduced to me at the Olafur Arnalds Q&A, which I think you can get a sense of from the description of the band on their Myspace bio: "Rökkurró’s melancholic serenades are evocative of the cold and desolate landscapes of their distant homeland. Mesmerising tones and swooping strings projected against a bleak and solitary Nordic backdrop. And yet, unique warmth pervades Rökkurró’s music owed to the fragile and soothing voice of Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir." See what I mean? I think many of the Icelandic bands are fighting against this stereotype specifically when it comes to Icelandic music...glaciers, desolation, etc. But still, hey, I liked them. The vocalist also played an electric cello, sang in Icelandic (those strongly pronounced "r"s really add something special to Icelandic language pop). Here I ran into Pontus (Swedish from Gothenburg), a guy I had met on Thursday at Hresso, and questioned him about the fancy camera he was using to snap photos of the band. Turns out he's blogging the festival too (check for some nice pictures). Before the show was over, Pontus and I booked it across town (15 minutes) to see Angel Deradoorian at a bookstore on Laugavegur, but she had canceled.
HAM (Iceland), Nikita, 7:00 p.m.
HAM is an Icelandic heavy metal band from the late 1980s and early 1990s, which reunited to open for Rammstein in 2001. Apparently, extremely popular at the time and still is. Singer Ottar Proppe is even a top member of the Best Party, currently ruling over Reykjavik under the fearless leadership of comedian and mayor Jon Gnarr. HAM seems to alternate between operatic singing and more metalish screaming, keeps a consistent hard rock guitar with heads consistently head banging. The venue was outdoors, on a stage before a large crowd of very enthusiastic fans, including a small cluster of children with earmuffs on.
Robyn (Swedish), Reykjavik Art Museum, 12:00 a.m.
By midnight, we moved to a balcony to try to watch the Robyn performance, which started about 45 minutes late. I had been looking forward to this show for well over a month, and I'd say that if one performer inspired my trip more than any other, it was Robyn. I think her album Body Talk Part 1 (I haven't had the opportunity to download Part 2, as I was already on the road without a laptop at the time it was released) is one of the best of the year, and the single "Dancing on My Own" was regularly played by me during my many long, solitary hikes around Europe. For this reason, I fought against the pain caused by (according to the most current, and likely theory), the food poisonous lamb I ate for breakfast, and sat through the first 5 or so tracks. Now, it seems to me that Robyn doesn't do a lot of her own singing on stage, which may be typical of pop stars these days, mainly playing the role of "performer". It seemed that for the amount of dancing she was doing, it would have been impossible for her voice to have been so full (especially when it is not so terribly full to begin with). She had a full band behind her, including two drummers. I wished I had been up front, dancing, and singing right up with her, but due to the shooting pain in my stomach, it was just not possible. Finally, we gave in to the pain and headed home. Good thing I'll be seeing her in L.A. not so far from now.
Day 5: October 17, 2010
Final day of the festival. To be honest, there wasn't a lot happening this day, but due to food poisoning, I saw a very small fraction of that small remaining bit. It took me until at least 11:00 a.m. to get out of bed, and even then was hurting pretty bad.
I ate nothing for breakfast, and skipped coffee, as I didn't think I could handle it. The first big stop of the day was Kolaportið, the Reykjavik flea market open only Saturdays and Sundays, that I have made a point of visiting on each of my trips to Iceland to browse children's books, clothes I probably won't buy, and most importantly dried fish, whale meat, flatbread from Selfoss, licorice candy and maybe even a taste of hákarl (fermented shark). Always a lively spot, held in a warehouse near the port, the flea market is full of Icelandics browsing the various meat and non-meat items, or maybe picking up toys for their children. Because of the state of my stomach on this visit, nothing looked nearly as appealing as it had on other occasions, but I knew how much I would regret not picking up some of the dried fish that I do so much love (the smell of which those around me so much hate) and two packets of this soft, super delicious licorice candy that I've grown to love over the years. So these delicious Icelandic foods I indeed purchased, and how much I have enjoyed them over the last two days. We stood briefly inside Havarí and caught a little bit of Rolo Tomassi (UK), a hardcore metal band, who sounded fairly good, but I still didn't feel great and we didn't stay long.
Reykjavik! (Iceland), Venue, roughly 9:00 p.m.
This performance by hard-core punk band, and Airwaves favorite Reykjavik! was my only show for the day, sadly enough, but at the very least it was very good, much like the show I saw on Wednesday. This show was not only "off-venue", meaning that a festival pass was not required to attend, but it was not even listed on the Iceland Airwaves program. I wonder now how many other performances like this there were that I may have missed. I was introduced to lead singer Boas before the show -- seemed like a truly nice dude, despite his totally insane stage presence. This show was actually the premiere for the video for the song "Internet", which took place at a local Reykjavik bar, with many of their friends acting as wildly dancing, beer spraying, vodka guzzling fans. After premiering the video on a screen, the band played a few more songs, and finished off by playing "Internet" live while the video played on the screen, which was super awesome. Especially since they somehow managed to sync almost perfectly with the video performance. At one point they asked for requests and someone shouted out "Kate Bush"! I didn't realize that this was the name of one of their songs. Here's the video for "Internet" -- the crowd wasn't quite this crazy on Sunday night, but I'd say Thursday night got pretty close to this: Reykjavík! - 'INTERNET' Reykjavik! | Myspace Music Videos Reykjavik! would be playing 45 minutes later in the club Boston, but we attempted instead to see Dan Deacon and then FM Belfast (supposedly one of Iceland's best bands) at NASA to close off the festival. We walked through cold rain and stood in a long line in front of a really annoying group engaging in an incredibly banal cultural exchange and waited for about 45 minutes without hardly moving. Instead of the wool socks I had worn the other days, I wore ordinary cotton socks and Converse on Sunday and felt the cold water soaking through as I waited. So we gave up. Kind of a shame that Sunday night ended up being a bit of a dud (Reykjavik! was great, but that's only one band, you know?) but I can't complain. The festival was one of the highlights of my trip, I attended some exceptional live performance, met some great foreigners and tourists, as well as spent quality time with the Icelandics already near and dear.
I recommend this festival for you all.
If you'd like to discuss further, email me at rfsljed at gmail dot com.