Last show of the evening was Hellvar at Harlem, a venue reminiscent of one you’d find in Austin: dark, small, in dire need of revamping, yet has character. Loved it. Hellvar, the all-female hard rocking band, was the redeeming closeout to the evening after the Amsterdam Café. Vocalists had amazing range… if your voice can still be heard over four guitars jamming at the same time, you deserve some respect. Energizing music, toying with the crowd in between sets and teasing the gents, fun stuff. It was hard not to bang along with them. Thanks for a great end ladies!
Female lead with an appealing power-wail. So good. Six piece band that managed to take advantage of all the instruments crammed on stage to give a ferocious performance searing guitar riffs slathered in alt-rock sensibilities with a side of grunge. (Try ordering that at Amsterdam Cafe).
Of all the Icelandic bands I’ve seen the last few days, they most clearly evoked the Sugarcubes (the original Icelandic post-modern reference point). Fun to watch, hammered through their set with an infectious cheerfulness. Great end to our festival.
Kept waiting for this gig to take off. The music wasn’t horrible but had the impact of elevator music. Lead female singer had ethereal and utterly boring vocals and the rest of the band were half-asleep.
Good thing they played Amsterdam. Terrible venue acoustics and the crowd talked over the music to the last.
Posted by Heather on 3rd November 2013 in Indie Rock
Across the street was Amsterdam Café featuring Oyama. The band had potential but couldn’t pull it together. First song reminded me of The Lion King soundtrack with its drumbeats, and a female vocalist who had the tone of Julee Cruise (good) but no emotion and incomprehensible lyrics (bad). I had visions of wanting to throw my sunglasses on with my beanie, get onstage, push her aside, and grab the mic. We stuck around for two songs. Average music, uninspiring vocals. Can’t believe these guys got critical praise at last year’s festival, maybe I missed something or they had an off night. Get me outta here.
Fortunately, Myrra Ros was playing at the Gamli and offset the experience we call Mosi with her music. Myrra, I think I love you. Amazing voice, both in the sung and spoken word…sweet, soulful, dreamy, soothing lyrics. Started with guitar solo which appeared as though she was tickling her guitar. Had her friends join her onstage to add depth with backup vocals, cello and piano to additional songs. Overtones of Matson Belle’s Float with some of the music she performed. Simple and amazing. Thank you Myrra, you were probably my favorite during this festival. Your 45 minutes went by too quickly.
Lush and dreamy vocals, haunting at times, stirring at others. She started solo on the guitar, two songs in added cello and piano and later keyboards. Each instrument added a layer of grandeur to support her gorgeous vocals. She sang songs in Icelandic and English, and introduced each one with a little story.
Lara’s Song, sung in Icelandic, was written for her daughter. She talked about having her daughter help her during the soundcheck of a gig earlier in the week. Myrra came across as down to earth and extremely likeable. A real joy to listen to her in all aspects of her performance.
The last two songs Animal and the new track Brother we’re knockouts.
Moody keyboard driven music. Drum machine steered the songs towards electronica and away from harmony. Unfortunately the tunes were unmemorable and not much fun either. Not sure why it took 5 people to make this mess.
Posted by Heather on 3rd November 2013 in Electronic
Marx and I stopped into Lucky Records to see the day’s earlier blessed event that occurred (his Bjork sighting and meetup – the lucky bastard) and to catch the band Mosi. Bjork now drives her son-in-law around with the set for his performances, one that took place at Lucky Records while I was sitting my happy ass in the happy Blue Lagoon about 45 miles away. Figures.
Now, about Mosi.
Depressing, somber soundscape with a lead vocalist who could easily pass for Bubbles from the Trailer Park Boys. Backup vocalists did little to add to the experience and looked to be in a daze. This set was probably the biggest WTF? moment of Airwaves. An electronic mess. I truly wondered if drugs were legal here for a brief moment.
Sindri Eldon is a former rock critic turned musician with his band the Ways. He was well-known for being critical of Icelandic music, which alienated him from the locals scene. Then, his step-mother is Björk-easily the most famous Icelandic (musician)-so he had a reputation of being something of a self-hater.
Today, Björk walked in for the band’s set. So that happened. (And she DROVE the band to their gig!)
The first track was swamped by a bad vocal mix was low. But they figured it out after that. Sindri Eldon and the Ways is a 3-piece rock band that flirts with punk (the way Green Day does) but Violent Femmes is better comparison.
The songs alternated between Icelandic and English. It was a pure unfiltered rock jam in either language. Sindri stuck to Icelandic in between songs going so far as to tell a joke in Icelandic to see if anyone knew the language. Not many laughed.
The music was sharp and high-energy. It made the tiny record store feel like an arena. Sindri didn’t know what to do with himself on so small a stage, and he roamed around like a panther, dropping to his knees, howling into the mic, and bouncing around like he was looking for someone to crash into. It was mesmerizing without taking away from the music.
I can’t stress how much I liked this set.
Hannah performed a couple songs solo on the guitar. She has a beautiful tone to her voice, soft and powerful.
Parker Ainsworth joined her for Wash it Away and he took over on guitar for the rest of the set. They are a seriously charming, cute duo. Easy banter about song choice (rejecting Today is a Good Day to Run by claiming the only thing he was running for was coffee and a croissant) and teasing the audience about their enthusiasm “pretty good for the last day of the festival and a Sunday.”
Their voices harmonized on gorgeous stripped-down tunes. They closed their set with what they called a “whisper-along,” the wistful track I Like It.
US band On an On was enjoyable, reminding me of alternative music I so enjoyed in college. Not much more to say.
Took me a while to warm up to them. Pretty generic alt-rock in the vein of Belle & Sebastian. Not sure if I mean that as a compliment. Chicago band that managed to play their best song back to back with their absolute vocoder-infused worst. I’m sure I don’t mean that as a compliment.
Still, Lead singer looked like he was having a blast and it made me want to have fun with him. That says a lot about their energy. Their worst drove us out of the venue and back to the hotel. That says a lot about them too.
Headed to Harpa to see bands Money, Asgeir, and On and On. I notice Harpa at night from the outside looks like how a honeycomb may appear to someone who just downed some magic mushrooms – multicolored window panes that keep changing colors on and off. Interesting.
Both UK band Money and Icelandic band Asgeir bore eerie semblance to meditation/spa music, with a few vocals thrown in on occasion. Not horrible, but not impressive. However, I did enjoy the pretty light shows onstage as well as Money’s vocalist-balancing-beer-on-his-noggin act despite Marx not being amused. BRAVO dude. Kudos as well to the drunk or coked up (or whatever) gents just getting in groove with the music. The world is your oyster guys – enjoy!
Easily the most accomplished band we saw tonight. They put together an electric alt-rock set that proves exceptional musicianship shines in any language. (Icelandic being the language in question.) The occasional electronic bloops and bleeps didn’t really enhance the soundscape much but they couldn’t seem to get away from it despite fine craftsmanship.
The band is the namesake of lead singer (and primary songwriter) Asgeir Trausti. Ringleader though he may be, he put together a stellar backing band. The chemistry was palpable. Impressive.
Self-important nonsense written in a 15 year old’s journal turned into music. The lead singer jumped into the audience to watch his band play then crawled back on stage and balanced a beer on his head. UK band which meant I could understand the words-unfortunately.
To the coked-out guy head banging along to the set; your life has meaning.
Sensational local band, all instrumental pieces that were absolute fire. Sprawling theatrical arrangements led by the piano that swept across the venue like a windstorm touching everyone. The drama was exquisite. Loved.
After we did the Golden Circle trip Saturday (aka how to efficiently freeze your nuts off), the first stop of the evening was to see For a Minor Reflection at a venue across from the bus station. LOVED these guys. Post-rock with piano. Instrumental. Heavenly. Could have listened to them for a while but we had other stops to make.
Last stop of the evening was Kofinn. Only open table was in front of performer in a small room so we grab it, a move I am sure offended the whole bar. 10 seconds in someone is upset because my hood is in his way of taking pictures. We listen to Annie play two, maybe three songs on piano. Annie’s got pipes. But again, the vibe isn’t doing it for me here and we leave. Again, no beer and a sad face. I want my bed now.
We caught two songs. No Melinda in evidence but Annie killed it solo on an original tune Say It Isn’t So.
Posted by Heather on 1st November 2013 in Cover Band
Walked into Hressingarskalinn to hear a female rock band perform a cover of Beyonce’’s Survivor. I looked at Marx with a WTF face, meanwhile Marx looked like he was about to have one. The music wasn’t bad but the atmosphere here left much to be desired: rude bartenders, scoping for a seat, finally finding one (or so we thought) and creepy people pushing back into a table right next to ours. I guess we stole their table, two dudes gave me looks like I was dinner. Don’t fuck with the Vikings. We left. No beer. Sad face. And I wanted to like this place.
At Hressingarskalinn, we stumbled upon an all female band playing in an early unidentified slot. As such, I never caught the band’s name but their covers, including a ball-squeezing take on Survivor, were respectable.
Posted by Andrew on 1st November 2013 in Emo
Totally chewing gum pop in the vein of Plain White Ts. This was seriously dynamic for a band playing in a store window.
We stood outside for this one and froze our butts off. But the music was good and it kept us there despite the cold.
We came across a crowd on a sidewalk watching Lockerbie, a pretty-boy Icelandic pop/post-rock band playing through the window of a clothing store. Some dreamy music here, which I’m sure helped keep people around despite the cold. I’m also sure the plethora of Icelandic wool jumpers worn by folks and the Kaffatir coffee shop across the street (should have stopped) didn’t hurt either.
The long-haired DJ led with extended moments of atmospherics. The theme was centered on Armageddon in both lyric and tonality but the musicality was there. Hypnotic.
Posted by Heather on 1st November 2013 in House
Once sets changed after East Side Boys wrapped, Krakkbot surfaced to perform what sounded like spinning you’d hear in a torture dungeon or goth club. Bumping beats with one lyric, “Apocalypse”, thrown in for (good?) measure every 10 or so seconds. I wasn’t hypnotized like Marx was, I was dying to finish my Viking beer and get the hell out of there at that point. Moving on…
Posted by Andrew on 1st November 2013 in Electronic
3 DJs self-defined as ” robot disco.”
Not quite danceable remixes. Absolutely thumping though. Great set.
Continued on to Bravo, a cute bar with East Side Boys (not Pet Shop Boys) spinning DJ style. Reminded me of old club days back in Vegas when I actually gave a shit about this type of music, but it was a fun few songs and Marx loved it.
First find in a small, second floor bar – a band named RIF. Easy-listening alternative is the best I can describe them. Likey. We stuck around for maybe 15 minutes since a place to sit and a beer were out of the question here.
We went in because of the bar’s name and listened awhile to the 3-piece band RIF. Somewhere, somehow Angelo Badalamenti meets Joshua Tree era U2 and this band was born. A bad sound mix drove us away during the last song.
Walked to Harpa Concert Hall Friday afternoon to pick up the wristbands, and inside was already a band wailing atop a stairway looking like it was going to heaven. Muck. Just mix metal music with outstanding acoustics, and you have Muck. Muck isn’t always a bad thing. We wouldn’t hit Harpa for more shows on Friday, instead opting to wander around the Laugavegur strip and see what we could find.
Local metal band playing at the top of a staircase in Harpa. The locale and its incredible acoustics probably contributed as much to the performance in a genre that doesn’t generally speak to me. They sounded stellar. A wickedly harmonious start to our weekend.
SXSW, meet Iceland Airwaves.
After attending SX for several years, I was dying to check this festival out and got Marx to join me for the ride. What started as a small show in a Reykjavik airport hangar back in 1999 has now grown into a 5-day annual showcase of new artists, both Icelandic and international. In other words, just like SXSW, and the similarities did not end there. Not that I was disappointed, I loved the setup of the Texas festival where you had the option of purchasing the wristband for an average week’s salary, or you could wing it and go downtown anyway to find numerous shows with no cover. And if one venue was horrible as well as the music, well… you walked two doors down and found something better. We learned we could do the same at Airwaves. Only difference that stuck out like a sore thumb? SXSW is known for freebies all over the place (even beer in some locations!). No freebies in Iceland, and be prepared to shell out $8-14 USD on average here for a beer depending on what you like.
We came to Iceland two days in to the festival, so we did not catch the full run. However, we found all kinds of interesting shows, both official Airwaves bands scattered at different locations in Reykjavik and unofficial free shows off the grid downtown (and usually preferring the latter).
If you are in the mood for something different and love checking out new music, consider this festival. If you attended and loved SXSW, you’re in for a treat by attending Airwaves. In addition, if you don’t mind freezing your nuts off then definitely consider Airwaves. Lots of interesting stuff to check out in Iceland. Just don’t fuck with the Vikings, and keep the jokes to a minimum. They won’t appreciate them anyway.
So, following is my rundown of the shows we caught and whatever shit I can remember along the way to add to the experience. Also, a special thanks to Mr. Marx… can’t remember the last time I got this much exercise and tried so many different beers despite the cost as in your presence. You hang in there sunshine, you’re frigging special! XO