It’s official: Iceland Airwaves 2022 is over. The love, the tears, the joy, the drunken stumbling must all be put into storage for next time.
Airwaves 22 marked the return of the Reykjavík favorite, the first one since 2019, when the world had to stop having fun. Now, Airwaves back! Airwaves 22 took place on a slightly smaller scale than previous years, and we’re all here for it: the slightly more intimate, DIY kind of feel transported us back to the Reykjavík Indie Days of Yore, when Icelandic music was blowing up and the RVK was the place to be.
Anyway… here are some of the highlights of Icelandic Airwaves 2022 that have us looking forward to Airwaves 23!
Thursday night is the first real night of Airwaves after the official opening on Wednesday. It’s kind of a taster of things to come, but also offered some of the acts we were most excited for. We had quite a time trying to catch Eurovision hits Systur, award-winning minimal electronic producer Janus Rasmussen, and folk-pop styles of What’s On favorite, Júníus Meyvant.
The first night of Airwaves can be overwhelming: it’s tempting to want to see everything. But you can’t, and that’s ok. Think of it as an exercise in mindfulness, in being present in the moment. Knowing there was plenty of Airwaves ahead, we checked out up-and-coming Icelandic bedroom pop-R&B artist Laufey at Fríkirkjan and called it a night. And a great one at that.
If Thursday night was any metric, Airwaves 22 was looking to turn out pretty great.
Someone wise once probably said that the best plan is no plan. Well, we agree. It’s a Friday night, the world is full of possibility, we’ve got a ticket to Airwaves, and we just got off work. As Reykjavík locals will know, some of the best action at Airwaves is actually at the off-venue shows, often more intimate, raw, and- dare we say- fun? In any case, the off-venue shows are where it’s at, especially in the painful stretch of hours between happy hour and the headliners. Lottó at 12 Tónar was definitely a highlight, the delightful record shop and cafe-bar having, in our opinion, some of the best DJ sets in town.
Knowing full well that our eventual goal lay at the Bríet performance at the Art Museun, we bounced around between Húrra and Gaukurinn, catching the russian.girls and Elia Lombardini sets. The last we can only describe as “classical shoegaze,” with violin and guitar pedals combining to create hypnotic loops. A couple beers in, we were mesmerized.
Bríet at the Art Museum was definitely a special experience, and for us, where the night really kicked off. There was great energy in the crowd, both from the Icelander who already know and love the pop star, and from the visitors and music fans just finding out about her.
From here, we bounced between Gamla Bío, Iðnó, and some other venues. We’d love to tell you about all the awesome acts we stumbled in on, but to be frank, this was the point in the evening when things started getting a little blurry. And it’s definitely those moments that are, to us, the most “Iceland Airwaves:” fighting for room in the corner of bar, discovering the best thing you’ve never heard of.
Look: we’ll come clean. We went a little bit hard on Friday night and stumbled home with more beer, cigarette, and hotdog in us than we’d like to admit. We’re also not as young as we used to be, and we may have spent much of Saturday bathing ourselves in paracetamol and Reykjavík hot tubs, before catching rising indie kids Ólafur Kram and Icelandic dreampop Vök, while responsibly sipping a soda water.
Knowing it was the last thing our hangover needed, we braved the high-energy punk rock styling of Skrattar, some of Iceland’s favorite bad boys. Was this a good idea? Strictly speaking, no, but Iceland Airwaves has never been known for responsible decisions and recommended amounts of sleep.
A last húrra
And just like that, Airwaves was over. Already missing Iceland Airwaves? Wishing you had caught an act that didn’t have time for? Check out our playlist below with some of our favorite songs from this year’s artists!