Sónar 2017 – The Best Of the Best

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Best performance

Á FM Belfast was hands down the most fun performance. Their energy seems to be never-ending, and this energy was infectious. Confetti, crowd surfing and beer costumes. What more do you need?

Jelena – Berndsen’s show had a unique vibe in the festival: danceable, yet really cozy and chill, like a good house party at your best friend’s place. It was the first show I saw in Sónar since I missed out on Thursday night, and it was a great start to the weekend for me.

Gréta – For best performance, there may be a few contenders but you can’t really beat FM Belfast. Their music is so infectious and their energy is so abundant and fun. The confetti, crowd-surfing and costumes are pretty good but even if left out, you’d still have a great show!

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Best band we‘d never heard of before

Ásdís – I have to admit, I’d never heard of Marie Davidson. Since I saw her act at Sónar, I’ve been listening to her music at home.

Jelena –  Oddisee. All-around brilliant lyrics, rapping, beats, and showmanship. [insert heart eyes emoji here]

Gréta – I was going to go with Oddisee but it seems Jelena beat me to the punch so I’m going to have to say Örvar Smárason. I’m cheating a little, since I’d heard of him before (he’s a member of Múm and FM Belfast for example) but I hadn’t seen his solo set (as it was his first ever). I didn’t know what to expect when we walked in but was more than pleasantly surprised with what I found.

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Best venue

ÁsdísSilfurberg is my favourite venue during Sónar. It’s large and was usually filled with people. I saw FM Belfast, Gus Gus and Moderat in Silfurberg. I just love being in the middle of big crowd with the loud music filling the room.

JelenaNorðurljós. Big enough for the fun, danceable sets, small enough to feel cozy no matter how full it was. It also never got too crowded or smelly like the biggest shows did over in Silfurberg.

Gréta – My favourite venue was actually the Kaldalón hall. You don’t really expect it to be great because it’s a seated venue but some of the most surprising acts I saw during the festival played there. Also, it was great to have a place where you could sit down for a while.

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Favourite Night

Ásdís – My favourite night at Sónar Reykjavík 2017 was the Thursday night. I managed to see at least six acts that evening, and enjoyed all of them. The atmosphere was relaxed and there was some anticipation in the air, and I looked forward to the next evenings.

JelenaFriday night. I think most festivals will have eclectic programming on the first night, and save the biggest names for the final night. Friday was the sweet spot in between where most acts were interesting or unexpected, and yet still seasoned performers with a polished sound.

Gréta – It’s a tough call but even though Thursday had the least fanfare in the schedule department, it takes the prize for being more pleasant than expected. Also, Thursday had FM Belfast. You can’t go wrong with FM Belfast.

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Best experience

Ásdís – This is a difficult choice. FM Belfast is the easiest answer. Moderat comes second. But, I want to mention Hatari. They were a huge surprise and now I’m waiting with impatience for their next concert.

JelenaSin Fang. For this set, Sindri Már Sigfússon performed from inside a tent onstage via live video stream. You can love or hate the weirdness of that, but it matched the introspective content of the music, which Sindri wrote when he was going through some “bad brain times”. Among three days of groups whose main goal was to make you shake your booty, it was a nice change of pace to have an act that made you think.

Gréta – I’m going with Örvar Smárason again, since it was such a pleasant surprise. It was still a bit early so the energy in the underground car park rave was a liiiittle too much for me at that point. Örvar’s set, in the seated hall, Kaldalón, was an engaging experience without demanding too much of a party mood from me.

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The top three best Icelandic bands we saw

Ásdís – Kött Grá Pje, Sin Fang and Örvar Smárason are my top three.
Jelena – Berndsen, Sin Fang, and GusGus.
Gréta – Örvar Smárason, FM Belfast and I must admit, I’m partial to a little Emmsjé Gauti

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Special mention

Ásdís – I saw Sleigh Bells, and I’d only listened to few of their songs. They surprised me, as the music was more rock n roll to it than I expected. I would have preferred to see them in the bigger concert hall. Everyone was getting ready for Moderat in the next hall, so I think they got a bit forgotten, unfortunately. But I really enjoyed their act.

Jelena – There were two acts that triumphed over difficult situations and deserve a special mention. John Grvy, who killed it despite having all of their equipment lost on the flight over, and Marie Davidson, who coolly ignored some unfortunate harassment in the middle of her set and had us dancing in a seated venue.

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What we thought of the festival as a whole

Ásdís – There were so many good artists that it was difficult to choose what to see. I would have wanted to be there earlier each evening, but didn’t have the time. Next year I want to see even more acts. All in all, music was great, Harpa is great and the people who attended the concerts were great. It seems that the festival was well organised and that there were no major problems.

Jelena – This was my first time at Sónar, and I loved it most for two factors: the size and the venue. It’s the perfect size festival to host both well-known and up-and-coming musicians, creating an eclectic and varied lineup. It’s also has good crowds with great energy, yet there are virtually no lineups and you’re never too far from the stage. It’s so cozy and convenient to have all of the venues inside a single building (especially considering it takes place in the middle of the unforgiving Icelandic winter). Harpa is also such a state-of-the-art venue, which makes for great sound, lights, and video, all very important elements in contemporary electronic music.

Gréta – This was my first time at Sónar as well and I had a great time! It’s such a different festival compared to the other big ones in Iceland, Iceland Airwaves and Secret Solstice, because it focuses on electronic music of all sorts. It gives the festival a really distinct atmosphere and makes it a unique experience. Also, for a music festival in February in Iceland, having it all in one building is perfect!

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