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Iceland Airwaves 2015 Wrap Up

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© Alexander Matukhno

Iceland Airwaves is our favourite festival and we’ve just had another amazing autumn weekend full of new and exciting music, and now it’s time for our yearly Iceland Airwaves Wrap Up!

We had our two resident music aficionados, Elín and Hjalti, attend the festival with their notebooks glued to their hands. They each had different approaches to their schedule. Hjalti decided not to plan at all and go wherever the weekend led him. Elín actually read the schedule, listened to the featured artists for months and then picked out her favourites and tried to see as many of them as she could.

Looking back there are some things that we’ve learned.

Icelandic hip hop is in a new golden age

We saw so many Icelandic hip hop shows and what’s more, many of them were really good. Just to name a few there’s Emmsjé Gauti, Úlfur Úlfur, Kött Grá Pjé, Gísli Pálmi, Sturla Atlas and Reykjavíkurdætur. These are all bands who have started out in the past few years and are doing fantastic stuff.

Please don’t take NASA away from us again

NASA is hands down the best venue in Reykjavík for medium sized shows. The stage is pretty small and close to the dance floor, making it a perfect place for artists to interact with their fans, a connection that can easily get lost in larger venues. Also, it’s a perfect place for crowd-surfing and having a mosh pit.

Plan your evenings, but not your days

What we found out is that if you don’t plan your evenings you may actually end up seeing much fewer bands than you would otherwise. You might end up having to wait in line outside a venue or picking the wrong venue, maybe one that just doesn’t feature your style of music that night. This, however does not apply to the day-schedule. The off-venues are usually less packed and you can wander in and see smaller artists you hadn’t heard of before. Plus there’s music in every corner. Just follow the music around you and you’ll be fine.

We’ve got our reviews for individual days on our blog already so let’s dive into the annual round-up and top lists.

Our top lists of Iceland Airwaves 2015

Best official gigs

  • Perfume Genius @ Harpa Silfurberg – “Incredibly sincere, emotional and inspiring. Made me feel all the feelings.”
  • Father John Misty @Harpa Silfurberg – “Great voice, great moves, great beard.”
  • Hot Chip @ Vodafone Hall – “One of the best dance music groups I have ever seen live.”
  • Vök @ Harpa Silfurberg – “This is the next big band out of Iceland. I’m telling you”
  • Ho99o9 @ NASA – “I haven’t been in a mosh pit for years!”

Top 3 off-venue gigs

  • Grísalappalísa @ Herrafataverzlun Kormáks og Skjaldar – “Cool to feel their raw rock power up close in such a beautiful and intimate venue.”
  • Kriki @ Sólon – “Honest and charming – can’t wait to hear more from this new band.”
  • Reykjavíkurdætur @ Slippbarinn – “A fluid performance from the daughters of Reykjavik. True role models for young girls.”

Top 5 Icelandic gigs

  • Kött Grá Pje @ Húrra – “Húrra is a perfect venue for this chaotic rap genius. Great party.”
  • Úlfur Úlfur @ Harpa Kaldalón – “Fantastic to hear them play with a live band.”
  • Grísalappalísa @ Harpa Silfurberg – “Lísa never fails to get the crowd going.”
  • Vök @Harpa Silfurberg – “Music sounded amazing, visuals flawless. Perfect performance.”
  • Emmsjé Gauti @ Reykjavik Art Museum – “Gauti is the new king of Icelandic rap.”

Best night

  • Friday Night – Perfume Genius, Grísalappalísa and Ariel Pink one after the other and then a punch-in-the-face-performance by Ho99o9 to finish the night. Amazing.

Top 3 Surprises – Bands we didn’t know before

  • Chili and the Whalekillers – “Great sound and such a fun band to see live.”
  • Nao – “Her voice was flawless and her stage presence was absolutely charming.”
  • Operators – “Powerful and emotional. Had to see them twice.”

Best venue

  • NASA! – “So many Airwaves memories. I’m glad you’re back NASA!”
  • Honorable mention: Harpa – “Three venues inside the same building, great for avoiding the rain!”

Best gear

Rain coat. Very much needed at this year’s Airwaves.

Best genre

  • Icelandic hip hop! – “Icelandic hip hopis in a new golden age.”

Best late-night food

  • Nachos at the Taquería No Mames truck by Dubliner. – “Mindblowingly great every time.”
  • Honorable mention: Kebab at Mandi – “For obvious reasons.”

Thanks for an amazing Airwaves 2015 and we will see you there next year!

  • Elín Elísabet Einarsdóttir & Hjalti Rögnvaldsson