Iceland Airwaves ’16 is here! Everyone at What’s On is so excited and we wanted to share the excitement so we’re going to tell you all about last night’s show. We’re giving you two different perspectives, Gréta will give you the local’s view and Ian is representing fresher eyes because as the Icelandic proverb goes: “Keen is the guests eye.” For reviews of the other nights and more, click here!
After stopping by a jam-packed Bar Ananas for an off-venue show, a Finnish artist who calls herself the Hearing was the first of my official schedule. She’s a tiny person with an amazing voice and seemed genuinely excited that people had come to see her show, so I’d say the night was off to a good start.
Next up were Reykjavíkurdætur in Harpa and they are just so freaking cool. Their energy, their Microsoft paint graphics background, and their irreverent rapping about everything from fanbois to their disagreeing with economic theories to sexual violence was just so cool! Their live shows are always spectacular and last night was no exception.
After Reykjavíkurdætur’s crazy powerful energy, we headed over to quite a different atmosphere, US band Lake Street Dive’s show at Gamla Bíó. I just loved the singers deep and powerful voice and the jazzy, 60’s swing-tinged music as the perfect light-hearted palate cleanser we needed. I won’t be sporting a full-on side pony anytime soon but I definitely appreciate the mood.
Now it was on to Harpa again for the last half of Kiasmos’s set. I must admit, I haven’t really been a fan of their instrumental electro beats but they really got to me this time, as I felt almost hypnotised by the dreamy atmosphere they created, both audibly and visually.
With two days of Airwaves behind me and three left to go, I was finally beginning to slow down and show some signs of wear and tear. The night started with one of what would be many energy drinks as I headed to my first show at Nasa. I was there to watch The Hearing, a woman from Finland with a positively adorable stage presence. Her set was very minimalist, in both sound and visuals, instilling a calming aura within the venue that created a sense of peace among the crowd. Together we all floated over the waves she created and it comforted me in a way that I rarely get from shows. Her attitude between songs was sweet and her positivity was contagious. She was unconventional in the most perfect of ways, creating a unique stream of good vibes and smiles. I could not help but think that her grateful and polite attitude mixed with her non-imposing demeanor reminded me of a stereotypical Canadian and perhaps that is why I found so much joy in her performance, she reminded me of my home or at least all the things I miss about Canada.
I didn’t really plan my night with much knowledge of the type of music I was going to see, but jumping from such a peaceful act to the self-proclaimed goth sex/diva couture band Dolores Haze performing at Gaukurinn was an amazing juxtaposition of energy. They played a mix of indie/alternative rock bordering the edge of noise, which to me was just absolutely perfect. A group a femme fatales from Sweden who isn’t afraid to do whatever they want and doesn’t care what you think about it. The venue was live and the crowd was pushing and dancing all at once. Their appreciation for the fans was endearing and their carefree attitude was inspiring. I can say with joy that this is one bad ass group of women, ready to rock out and tear you apart at a moments notice, and it was a pleasure to witness and be a part of.
Next up was the much hyped War Paint performance at Harpa which I was extremely excited for, but as I entered Harpa to see what I can only describe as a Friday night surge of humans, it was hard to keep my excitement. It was the first show at Harpa where people were actually standing in the hall as the room itself was not big enough to accommodate everyone, and it was a huge room. The band was extremely talented and the drummer was absolutely amazing, but the music just wasn’t working for me. I guess going from a slow set to a noise/rock band is a nice progression, but going from noise to a slower performance seemed like a digression for my mood. I have never been a fan of stadium shows and with Harpa being the biggest venue at airwaves, I would not doubt that as the reason for my feelings. All in all the show was great, just not what I was hoping for.
With the bad taste of insanely packed large venue shows still in my mouth, I headed over to Húrra to wash it out with a vodka red bull. It may have been my love for that venue, the red bull, or the high energy trap music, but Alexander Jarl put on one hell of a show. He had the whole room pumped up from the very beginning of his set and never once let it ease down. It is difficult not enjoy a show when you feel like you are really a part of it, and with everyone, wall to wall, participating in the party, I was pulled back into the realm of excitement and it felt good, it felt like home.
Another red bull later and it was time for Herra Hnetusmjör to take the stage. His pace was fast and his performance was smooth. I am not the biggest fan of hip hop, but again, when you are part of a show with such high energy it is infectious and spreads to every part of your body. My favourite part of Airwaves is constantly being shocked by what I enjoy, never before having the desire to see a hip hop show it ended up being the perfect way to end my night, something I never would have experienced as solo show. The ability to jump around venue to venue and pick and choose your mood and vibe with such ease is such an amazing feature of this festival. That said, with two more days left I can’t even imagine what is in store for me, but I can tell you I cannot wait to find out.