Live Music Review Articles:


Brain Police Combat Public Displays Of Aggression

My colleague and I arrived at Dillon to find ourselves stuck in the agonizingly sober limbo of Purgatory. Happy hour, the barkeep told us, had ended twenty minutes earlier, but Brain Police wouldn’t begin their set for another three quarters of an hour.

A Faroese Folk Fay

A cold, monotonous and tipsy Wednesday was on its way when I stepped into Gamli Gaukurinn to see the Faroese singer Eivør Pálsdóttir. From the get-go, she captivated the roomful of listeners.

Throbbing Bass And Writhing Bodies

Saturday night at Sónar started fairly quietly. Harpa was not quite in the heaving mass-filled swing of things. Throughout the festival, people seemed to arrive on the later side, presumably with the intention of catching only the main acts.

Top House Tunes Make You Go On And On (And On And On)

Saturday night at SONAR started off pretty much the same way as the night before. Everyone seemed to be at home or in the local bars, preferring to wait until a bit later before coming to Harpa (steep beer prices and heavy a security will do that).

Harpa Hypnotised By Philip Glass

An étude from the French for “study”, is a short, often highly challenging piece designed to expand the playing technique of a musician. This often involves an intentionally difficult mixture of techniques, sometimes including sharp swings in mood or tempo or mind-bending, finger-tangling times signatures.

All The Bass, All The Time

So Thursday night at Sonar was definitely an interesting experience. It was heartening to see that the organisers had taken on some of the issues from last year, such as the temporary ceiling tiles at the Bay View Area, providing the crowd with a much better sound and atmosphere.

GusGus Steal The Show

As Iceland's freezing winter slowly thaws, Sónar is back for 2014, again inhabiting various spaces within the glittering Harpa concert hall, set against the snowy mountains and steely ripples of Faxaflói bay.

Notes From The Opening Night

The opening night of Sónar was a landscape of diverse music. From expansive and masterful experimental work to pure synth dance music bliss, the festival came to life Thursday night to a good turnout and set the stage and the bar for the rest of the festival.

Mammút Delivers An Electrifying Performance

Ten years of stage experience as one of Iceland's favourite indie-pop bands has taught Mammút how to roll with the punches.

Gourmet Viking Metal

Arriving to Harpa's Eldborg Hall on Saturday night, I find my seat just before Skálmöld and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra begin their third and final sold-out show.

Stealing The Headlining Band’s Thunder

On an otherwise normal Thursday in October, I enter Gamli Gaukurinn for a line-up previously unimaginable in this den.

Marching On A Road To Nowhere

Anyone who’s seen the Talking Heads’ phenomenal concert film ‘Stop Making Sense’ knows that David Byrne does not fuck around when it comes to live shows.

Happiness Is A Sad Song

“I woke up this morning and cheered, ‘There’s miserable weather!’” Melancholica Festival organiser Pete Uhlenbruch said on Wednesday, August 21.

All The Rage

Emerging upstairs at Faktorý for the Grísalappalísa album release concert was like entering a man cave: hazy lights, musky smells and low growls issued from the front of the room. The scene was overwhelmingly male.

GusGus Bid Farewell To Faktorý

The Sunday night in question was special and historical for few different reasons.

Seeking Closure From Faktorý

With Faktorý being torn down to make room for another downtown hotel, we had to go check out one of its last shows on July 26.

The Disco Mothership Lands At Harpa

Moses Hightower started warming up the crowd with some of their polite funk and low-key whispered soul.

An Unbelievable Weekend Of Mayhem

Eistnaflug, “flight of the testes,” is sacred ground for the rockers and metalheads of Iceland. Featuring sets from 70 bands over three days, 700 kilometres out of Reykjavík, it is a great place to relax or rock out to your favourite kind of music.

Catching The Eistna-bug

You have to be a pretty hardy soul to attend Eistnaflug. Set in the isolated fjord of Neskaupstaður, the journey alone takes about 9 hours without any stops.

Snæfellsjökull Healing

Armed only with rumours that I would most likely encounter cold weather and people doing A LOT of drugs, I headed for the fourth annual Extreme Chill Festival bundled up in my warmest gear, haunted by visions of neon booty shorts and glowsticks.

The Case For Quietude

On a cold, wet Sunday evening, if one has to leave the dry comfort of their living room couch, there are few better places to go than the amber-glowing warmth of the Iðnó concert hall.

Stormy Adventure Time

Rauðasandur (English: “red sand”) is a small festival in a relatively remote part of the Westfjords, offering a daytime programme of wholesome fun stuff like seaside yoga, hill walking and a sandcastle contest, followed by a party, a schedule of live music, and a bonfire for the finale.

Drowning In This Frank Ocean Do Not Resuscitate

During Frank Ocean’s Reykjavík show—the final one of his European tour—fans drowned metaphorically in the tides of his music and literally in the sea of people pushing towards the stage. ?It was great.

The Art Of Encountering Higher Beings

Sure the winter-wonderland scene of an alien polar bear crushing a weak and flailing naked woman was eye-catching, but what really got my attention on the All Tomorrow's Parties Iceland advertisement was a single line of type that read "Thee Oh Sees."

Shop Here, Tax Free (piss on me while I shit)

I'm on the bus on my way to All Tomorrow's Parties. I almost missed it. Ten minutes before the bus left I was having a drink at Boston with the Dead Skeletons. When I arrived in front of the bus station my phone rang. I didn't know the number but I answered anyway. It was one of the Grapevine’s interns asking where I was.

Can We Fit More Metalheads In Here?

Skálmöld has been one of my favourite bands since they released 'Baldur' in the deep and dark winter of 2010. A couple of years later it is May 11 and I find myself again, in Gaukurinn, and tonight's line-up has me very excited.


Limbs twitched. Teeth were bared. Somebody may have lost an eye.

Ice And Sand

It's not often that most Icelanders find themselves in the middle of the desert. Of Monsters and Men's Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir isn't quite sure how to handle it. "It's horrible," she says. "We're all trying to find shade."

The Winner Takes It All

Iceland’s unsigned bands duke it out in a battle to the death, metaphorically speaking of course...

I’ve Never Been North

Close to the northernmost tip of Iceland lies Ísafjörður, a small town nestled deep in the crook of Skutulsfjörður.

A Misspent Star Wars Childhood

As I sit down in Harpa’s Eldborg hall to listen to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra play the music from Star Wars, all sorts of childhood memories, both pleasant and unpleasant, come flowing back.

A Stomach Churning Ride

On September 29, Kira Kira celebrated the release of her rather splendid "Feathermagnetik" album in Harpa's Kaldalón recital hall.

Rokkjötnar 2012

A one-day festival event, Rokkjötnar, featured Iceland’s “Giants of Rock,” as the festival name suggests (…although “jötnar” is also an old word for “troll,” so you might alternatively call it “The Trolls of Rock”).

Lone Riders On Electronic Horses

Harpa Kaldalón is not a venue I would normally associate with hot-and-heavy rock and roll action.

Continuous High-Octane Thunder Crash

I’m a bit of an asshole cynic when it comes to Canadian bands. Not because of Nickelback or anything—Nickelback rules!—but because I come from a city that Spin magazine relegated to such atrocious proportions of indie-rock status that it turned the idea of that genre coupled with my nationality into a fucking commoditised joke.

Appetite For Self-Destruction

Let’s start at the end. “Did you get in here for free?” lead singer Páll Rósinkranz asked two little children jokingly, carrying bouquets of flowers to our heroes as their last song came to a close. “Uncomfortable” is the word I’m looking for. Forced and un-unified, no one on stage seemed ready or able to do justice to what once was a great band.

Hare Kría, Hare Rama

Trying to recall specific details of Prince Rama's performance at Faktorý is a bit like trying to piece together the sequence of events from a dream—or a shroom trip. It's hard to pinpoint the moments, to string together narrative from the rich, complex, delicious mix of light, colour, sound, video, costume and dance they put on.

Electric Sauna Soul

Jimi Tenor is the sort of guy I’ve heard about for a long time and been like “yeah, that guy sounds pretty interesting, I have to check him out sometime.” But I never do. He is from Finland and has crafted songs out of a large spectrum of modern music, from acid jazz to IDM.

Talk Of The Town

“Everybody loves a winner, so nobody loved me,” croons Tony Bennett from the stage of Harpa’s Eldborg Hall. “I do,” a woman who is prob-ably young enough to be his daughter shouts back. Of course, that could still make her 60.

All Is Weill With Sigríður Thorlacius

Café Rósenberg is to music what Bíó Paradís is to movies. It is somewhere the enthusiast can go to really enjoy his or her preferred art form, rather than have it as a backdrop to dates or discussions, popcorn or beer.

Við Djúpið, Fortissimo!

A fishing community of 2,600 inhabitants may seem an unlikely hub for music, but as it turns out, the inhabitants of Ísafjörður can handle the violin bow just as well as the net.

Awkward Times at Innipú inn

To be perfectly honest, by day three of Innipúkinn, I was hardly thrilled to be heading to another night of music at Iðnó. It wasn't the music that was problematic. It was the overall setting: the whole festival felt too tame.

A Powerhouse Climax With Four Songs!

Nine o’clock on a summer night is just about dinner time for many Icelanders, which could very well explain how shockingly (or maybe not so shockingly) sparsely populated Iðnó was for the first act: Just Another Snake Cult.  There was a mixed bag of folks, ranging from grandparents to tourists.

The Hawaiian-Shirted Man Stole The Night

Welcome to the eleventh annual Innipúkinn festival, a musical event held at the Iðnó theatre aimed at all those Icelanders who wish to avoid sleeping in stuffy, airless tents in the countryside where there are no showers (which is what a lot of people enjoy doing during this holiday, for some ridiculous and unfathomable reason).

Eistnaflug 2012 Saturday REVIEW

As Saturday dawned and our final musical journey began, the combination of three days of illegal hard liquor, scorching sun and the occasional head butting of a lighting bollard had many of us juuuust a little fried and emotional. Even hardcore black metal fans were contemplating the use of sunscreen for possibly the first time in their lives.

Eistnaflug 2012 Friday REVIEW

Waking up, last night’s events come back in fog and static, interspersed between moments of flat black. This wasn’t due to alcohol, but my body adjusting, apparently by wiping my memory, to a time change of three hours and little less than six hours of sleep in the past 48.

Eistnaflug 2012 Thursday REVIEW

“Hey Eyþór! What’s that strange shiny thing up in the sky there?”
“I don't know man, but it’s doing weird things to my skin. Plus I don’t have rickets anymore!”
Hallelujah! After the previous couple of years, which saw temperatures plummet to the point where an Ice Giant’s bits would break off, Eistnaflug 2012 saw glorious sunshine and warm balmy temperatures. It’s like being on holiday or something!

Monsters Spread The Clap

Consistent droves of Icelandic families flushed through Fríkirkjuvegur in anticipation of the free outdoor concert at Hljómskálagarðurinn. This Saturday night included more than just tipsy-trendy-twenty-somethings—finally an opportunity presented itself for tweens and young adults alike to claim temporary residence in 101 Reykjavík, and use the chance to see one of Iceland’s fastest claims to fame: Of Monsters and Men.

Summer Solstice Filigree Folk

The first time I heard Ólöf Arnalds play live was at the Aldrei fór ég suður music festival in 2010. Though I had been a fan since first hearing ‘Við og við’ when it came out in 2007, I was not instantly taken by her live performance. It quickly dawned on me, however, that it was the situation and not the performer.

Tight Like A Bumblebee’s Ass

What was supposed to be an anal, sharp and critical review of Botnleðja’s first comeback show at Gaukurinn quickly turned into an open fan letter. You object? That’s probably because you just don’t get it.

Rock Me, Sexy Jesus

Let me just say this right off the bat: it’s not Bryan Ferry’s fault he’s old, and I am in no way insinuating he should retire. He’s made a half-dozen terrific albums since Roxy Music called it a day in the mid-eighties (their 2001 comeback doesn’t fucking count because they still haven’t fucking done anything).

Prog 'Til You Drop

The Earth Band formula is quite simple. Take a lesser known Bob Dylan or Springsteen track, substitute some of the many verses with a very long guitar or Moog synthesizer solo (or both), return to chorus, and repeat. The result, while perhaps not genius, is nonetheless surprisingly engaging.


Requiem For A Scene

As Nasa is closing its doors on June 1, it was with great grief that I walked through the lobby of the soon to be demolished concert venue to see GusGus perform one last time.

Delay-And-Reverb-A-Go-Go At The Inaugural Stopover Gig

Harpa’s architecture is all the more fascinating in the dark—approaching it at night feels almost surreal, a sensation that persisted when I stepped into Kaldalón Hall for the stopover series concert on April 17.

Good Vibrations

Chick Corea was only remotely familiar to me the moment I stepped into the dim red glow of Harpa’s Eldborg concert hall.


Away From The Scorching Sun

As spring finally begins to break in Iceland, Svartidauði grace us with their malign presence at Kaffistofan.


Black Metal Coffee Evening

I really don’t like coffee. I hate its overly bitter taste and I don’t like the smell, especially when I can detect the smug stench of someone who’s downed a double cappuccino from twenty metres away, droning on about how they always “need the stuff” or they can’t function.

Be There Or Be Square

When I learned that a young artist that I had never heard of was putting on a show exclusively for the residents of a tiny hamlet I didn’t remember ever hearing of, I just had to go witness it.


Music Battle Royale 2012!

Since 1982, The ÍTR, Reykjavík's sports and youth council, has put on The Battle of the Bands (Músiktilraunir) as a massive search for the best new acts the nation has to offer.


A Dry Account Of A Juicy Event

I arrived about ten minutes late. I wasn’t sure if I had missed conductor Ilan Volkov’s opening remarks to this sound installation so I sat down and waited, listening to whispering all around me.


Bloody Hell, It's Magnús Blöndal!

The Tectonics Festival’s second day is dedicated to Icelandic composer Magnús Blöndal. I had not really heard of Magnús prior to Tectonics, and as the point of the day was to celebrate his work and bring it to the attention to a new and unaware audience, I decided to maintain my ignorance. I experienced the day as a Magnús Blöndal virgin.

Up To Ears In John Cage

Thursday March 1 was the opening day of the inaugural Tectonics music festival, which would focus on the music and words of John Cage, one of the leading lights of modernist music composition in the twentieth century.


A Peek At Dark Music Days 2012

Conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (ISO) Ilan Volkov stated in a recent interview with The Grapevine that his intention was to take advantage of the “open and interested” musical culture in Iceland by performing new and challenging pieces.

Homey and Cosy

We are in a small church, beside a small lake, in a small city in the far, far North. On a not-so cold November night, Christ, arms aloft in a gesture of welcome (or an attempt to kill his followers with his likely funky body odour), is lambent with red and green disco lights, which rotate in mesmerising patterns across his image. A girl in a red dress is singing in a soft, sweet voice the poetry of her forebears.

Fishy Business!

It was a Thursday night and my options were to have a nice, quiet night in watching ‘The Good Wife’ or go to a gig by the mighty totems of Icelandic rock, Reykjavík!, to celebrate the release of their third album, ‘Locust Sounds’. Really, it was a no brainer.

Liberation Frequency

The fifth concert of the Múlinn Jazz series at the Nordic House on Wednesday November 9 featured performances by Magnus Johannessen and Iceland's New Liberation Orchestra.

No(r)n More Black

So there are two Norn's in Iceland. One is a Post-Punk band and one is a Black-Metal band.


Happy Birthday, NASA!

Saturday night NASA turned ten years old! A solid gold dance-a-thon, this birthday party was one for the books.

Heraclitus Would Have Loved It

Two contrasting modes of mixing music and visual imagery were on offer at RIFF´s film-concert of Skúli Sverrisson and Sóley at Fríkirkjan on September 28.


The gala audience gathered for Sunday night’s concert at Harpa had come to see two freshly minted superstars of the classical scene, each with a compelling back story.


A heavy cloud of cigarette smoke and a gloss of leathery inebriation lined the gateway into NASA that night. A sense of powerful debauchery was spilling out of the door, onto the sidewalks of Austurvöllur, and festering among the pockets of people soiling their larynxes, perfecting their pre-show growls. It was almost 23:30, and the scent in the air was strong. It was the smell of HAM.

Sage Francis Struck A Nerve In The Listenership

Sage Francis ended his show at Sódóma Reykjavík last Saturday rapping while he surfed the crowd, lying on his back, supported by dozens of arms, with a motionless Sage suspended in the air, words emanating from his unseen mouth.

Professionals, At The Top Of Their Game

While their fifteen years of experience explain the on-stage swagger, it's remarkable to witness the influence GusGus have in the Icelandic club scene.


Afrocubism Harping at Harpa

Afrocubism graced the stage at Harpa on June 28 to a packed theatre, and musically did not disappoint. Unfortunately, when it comes to concerts, the music is only part of the battle.

Secret House Music And Eventual Rapture

Since moving to Reykjavík from California, I have been feeling starved of awesome shows. Whereas where I come from, regardless of which direction your tastes lie, a weekend means having to pick and choose between shows to go to; here in Iceland we're lucky if we get an exciting show every few months, and even then it might be on a Tuesday.


A lot of bitching and griping has gone on in the metal and hardcore scene as of late regarding the inclusion of For a Minor Reflection on tonight’s bill, and for good reason.



An evening of extreme music on what was probably the sunniest weekend Iceland has seen so far this year? It does seem a little incongruous, but once we’re inside the dark, dank confines of Kaffistofan the pleasant weather outside can easily be forgotten.


Sunday night marked the end and, for many, the high point of fledgling music festival Reykjavík Music Mess. And all the shows were pretty great, even those that took place in the Click through and read all about it!


Reykjavík Music Mess Saturday was apparently a lot of fun, at least if you were part of the Grapevine’s elite team of reviewers and know-it-alls. What happened? Read on to find out!


The Reykjavík Music Mess kicked off with a... well not a blast... but it definitely kicked off on Friday! Read on to sort of find out what happened!



Despite arriving in a rushed state to Laugardalshöllin, I actually find I’m early, as the gig area isn’t ready and nobody can enter. To pass the time I decided to check out the attendees.

England's Mountain Green

England’s fascination with campy, shticky, image-obsessed music has, after thirty years of cheesy Eurotrash, baby-faced boy bands, comeback careers from overweight middle-aged singer-songwriters, Christmas singalongs, Live Aid and all those fucking Spice Girl solo careers, produced the phenomenon known as Hurts.

Dark Music Days

Reykjavík’s Dark Music Days Festival (Myrkir Músíkdagar) is a bit like Iceland Airwaves, if Airwaves catered mostly to hip classical musicians, threw in a ton of contrabass instruments, and was operated entirely by about four people.

Apparat Organ Quartet Plays ‘Pólýfónía’ - Heads Bob

After allowing eight years to pass since their debut album, Apparat Organ Quartet have finally put out a second album, ‘Pólýfónía.’ They celebrated its release with a concert at Nasa.


I’m not sure if you heard, but Jónsi played a little show over at Laugardalshöll on 29 December. Don’t feel bad if the low-key event passed you by, it’s not like it was buzzed about for eons in advance...

John Taverner's Iepo Oneipo

It started out so well, and its only real failing was in not living up to the stunning two openers.

Sexy Italy

The curtains open and we find ourselves in the middle of a porn scene.

Noise, Evil Beats And.... Neil Young?

Over the past year, Iceland’s electronica scene has been bolstered by the arrival of boutique record label, Hljóðaklettar.

NASA - Sunday

The first band to play that night was Orphic Oxtra who helped get me over my intense anger (at NASA, they charged money for water) with their fun Balkan inspired ensemble.

Sódóma - Sunday

The Foreign Monkeys take stage first on Sunday night. There isn’t much to report of their show.

Art Museum - Saturday

Holy shit, this place looks awesome. It’s about time Iceland had a real pop/rock venue that is aesthetically pleasing as well as comfortable, and the Art Museum, bedecked in all its Airwaves finery (huge speakers, tasteful lighting) might well be the finest we have to offer.

Tjarnarbíó - Saturday

Tjarnarbíó is possibly the most beautiful venue at Airwaves. The recently renovated movie theatre makes it possible to watch the concert from the comfort of a cosy theatre chair and has sufficient space for dancing in front of the stage.

Amsterdam - Saturday

Amsterdam is a bit of a mixed bag tonight with a reasonably mixed line up ranging from teenage spunk to old school screaming punk. As I rock up I’m relieved to see the building still standing after the apocalyptic events that went down last night, according to Sindrí Eldon anyways.

Iðnó - Saturday

Not very typically Airwaves-like, the first show of the day featured not a rock band but a young guy on a grand piano.

Faktorý - Saturday

The night began awesomely well at Faktory on Saturday, with Lazyblood kicking things off in style. They played to an appreciative crowd, who gathered in a small group around the stage.

Venue - Saturday

The evening was cold and wet when I arrived at Venue.

Risið - Saturday

Big Crowds + Quiet Music = No Fun

Sódóma - Saturday

Here’s the extra short, totally mean review of the Drowned in Sound/SESAC night.

NASA – Saturday

As Hellvar get ready to play their set, we look around to see that NASA is completely empty. Apparently some Swedish pop act is playing at the art museum tonight (The Cardigans?) and this means NASA is a ghost town with its own species of Tumbleweed.

Apótekið – Saturday

After last night's disaster of a dance concert, my hopes for my third straight night at Apótekið are low.

Amsterdam – Friday

Things were pretty awesome at Amsterdam. The Warsaw Pact got things going with their vibrant gypsy folk, and I’m glad the festival organizers decided to mix things up a bit for a change.

Reykjavík Art Museum- Friday

Chateau Marmont got right down to the point.

Risið - Friday

I arrived at Risið to find a well-behaved crowd sitting in chairs listening intently to the evening’s first act, Soffía Björg. The band of five filled the venue with melancholy country, folk, blues.

NASA - Friday

Ljósvaki were first up, and from the off puzzled, then confused and then confused some more.

Iðnó - Friday

The evening started with a quiet, laid-back atmosphere at beautiful Iðnó when girl trio My Bubba And Mi took the stage.

Tjarnarbíó - Friday

Two men on stage and no more than twenty people in the audience, this is how Friday night at Tjarnarbíó started.

Venue – Friday

Moshi Moshi Records is a London-based indie label, which is responsible for releases of Bloc Party and Florence & The Machine, to name a few.

Faktorý - Friday

Well what a difference a year makes. Grand Rokk, a place where hope and good music went to die is no more. Instead, like a phoenix from the ashes, we have Faktorý. Gone are the slot machines, angry belligerent alcoholics and the smell of rotting fungi, and in its place there are clean floors and walls, a bigger stage and automated paper towel dispensers.

Sódóma – Friday

As there is a notable metal scene in Iceland it makes sense, that this genre gets an adequate place in the line-up of the country's most popular music festival.

Apótekið – Friday

Being a performer is often ridiculous. Many venues an artist is made to perform at are all kinds of awful.

Amsterdam - Thursday

Amsterdam is somewhat of a surprising venue this year. It's the home of sleazy regulars, and reeks of beer and sweat. A place one normally never goes to, except perhaps when the crowd across the road at Bakkus is overbearing and one wants quiet conversation or a trip to the loo.

Reykjavík Art Museum - Thursday

Thinking I would be late, I burst in the side door of the Reykjavík Art Museum into total emptiness

Tjarnarbíó - Thursday

“Goddamn Reykjavík youngsters and their professionalism!”

Sódóma - Thursday

Dressed in black, white and red wearing gelled quiffs and bringing an upright black bass along, the 59's lived up to their name.

Iðnó – Thursday

Iðnó took a chill pill this Thursday night, with Biggibix, Klassart, Moddi, Moses Hightower, Lay Low and Seabear supplying the goods for a laid back night with a living room-type atmosphere.

NASA – Thursday

I have seen the pitiless black heart of Icelandic rock music and now my life is never really going to be the same again...
All things considered I only have myself to blame.

Venue – Thursday

A gathering of the best and the brightest within the local hip-hop scene (with a little help from Florida)


Faktorý - Thursday

The women in the crowd were probably heart-warmed by the singer's shirtless antics...

Apótekið – Thursday

When you go to a music festival it is your ethical duty to do two things:
1) Check out unfamiliar music.
2) Dance.
So, with the aim of killing two birds with one drum machine I went to the ( night at Apótekið.

Risið - Thursday

Like a relaxing alternative programme Risið had a line-up that consisted of laid back singer songwriters and folk-pop bands this evening.

Apótekið – Wednesday

Why is it that as soon as people start to get all cocky about the weather and start going on about how long its been since it rained, the heavens open?

NASA - Wednesday

Funny how an artist can convince you their music is good just by the way they move to it.

Venue - Wednesday

The band really did everything to hide from people that their songs are actually huge stadium rock hymns in disguise. Luckily the audience got the trick!

Faktorý - Wednesday

Pétur og Úlfurinn started their set with a long minimal drone intro, later layered with smokey vocals.

Amsterdam – Wednesday

As I sit down to accept the gauntlet of tonight’s bands, I pause to consider the price of the alcohol that is being served to me.

Sódóma – Wednesday

Sódóma got the musical ball rolling nicely on Airwaves Wednesday, with a strong line-up that pulled a solid crowd and provided to good times for all. Hurrah!

The Annual Iceland Airwaves Editorial

I will come right out and say it: I have been in love with the Iceland Airwaves festival ever since I was a teenager.   

Happy Up Here

They had me at “Alluu!"

Farewell, but not goodbye, to the House band from Hell...

I love free shit. If there is something that I can get for nothing, then my grasping mitts are all over it

Jonsí is Way Out West

It is closing in on midnight in Slottskogen in Gothenburg and singer M.I.A. is the last act to take the big stage on a Friday night for the Way Out West music festival.

Funeral Brass & Jazzy Brass

Grapevine Grassroots #18 took place on July 23rd, and featured an avant-garde piece by brass trio, Mora, selected readings by Sigurður Þórir Ámundason from his poetry book ‘Snake Cool & The Cobra Crazies’ and jazz infused electronics from Vibe O’ Razor.

Electronica Under the Glacier

Alright, so the second weekend in August is fixing up to be pretty legendary. Why’s that? Because Iceland’s first electronic and experimental music festival is going to kick off its inaugural edition.

A Good Long Nap

The Icelandic Opera is a strange little room. It’s a stripped-down, baroque-style hall with creaky seats and clattering doors.

The Rhythm Got Them. Eventually

It started with the biggest group hug I‘ve ever seen. I strolled into the rather sparse arena and up to the front of the room and quickly saw that the dance floor was full, but everyone was parted like the Red Sea.

Mínus Return. Again.

The bill tonight is an odd one. Mínus have enlisted not a single metal or hardcore act to support them, hoping rather to draw a diverse crowd with the aid of rock duet DLX/ATX and electro champion Biogen.

Excellent Music For Clearly Enthralled People

Dear Kimono,
    I’ve been pondering our relationship, as it seems to have taken a childish turn recently. Names have been called. Threats were possibly made.

Fashion, Eruption, Aggression, And A Whole Lotta Fuzz

Hours after a volcanic fissure ruptured in Fimmvörðuháls on the vernal equinox, Canadian electro-glam star Peaches erupted onto NASA’s stage in a fury of beats, costumes, hair, and attitude—a suitable finale for the inaugural Reykjavík Fashion Festival.

I'm no expert #4

A matinee Opera concert is a nice idea. A group of young opera singers put together a group called Óp-hópurinn, performing monthly in collaboration with the Icelandic Opera, to kick off their careers. Also a nice idea. You can even buy sandwiches to munch on while the talent sings its collective heart out. Which is an even nicer idea.


The Petrifying Giant

The main event of the night was Jón Leifs’ Symphony #1, nicknamed the Saga Symphony because it evokes famous scenes from the Icelandic Sagas. Supporting were three Icelandic composers debuting similarly themed works, influenced by the man himself.

I'm No Expert #2

Heyrðu mig nú (“Hear me now”) is a concert series that the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra organizes as an outreach to younger music lovers. Thankfully, I'm not a teenager anymore, but... you know... I scored free tickets.

Why It Pays to Quit Your Day Job

Svavar Knútur, singer of Icelandic folk-outfit Hraun, toured Germany a few weeks ago. It was his second visit this year after touring under the Norðrið moniker this spring with Sprengjuhöllin and Dísa.

Pulling Teeth...

So, by some bizarre paradox it’s Friday the 13th and it’s as I'm riding a weird and monstrous cloud of joy. Then, amassed aural forces conspire to destroy me. In a bad sense.

I'm No Expert #1

Apparently there are no mandatory rock show-like delays at a classical lunch hour concert, so luckily I arrived just in time.

It's Over - It's Finally Over!

So, this is it. No more Airwaves 2009. As I type this, we are just uploading the last review here on your special Grapevine Airwaves site, and we're about ready to close up shop for the year and not think about Airwaves and that whole inspiring beersoaked joyous up-to-no-good vomit-stained frat party soon-to-be forgotten music festival business for at least another couple of months...

Sódóma - Sunday

A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I watched Seli, leader of the veteran rockabilly outfit Langi Seli og Skuggarnir, strap on his beautiful Gretsch Black Phoenix Brian Setzer signature guitar.

NASA - Sunday

NASA provided a venue for the grand finale of Airwaves this Sunday night, the festival in turn duly offered up the goods in the form of a line up of DJs and live electronic acts apparently designed to bring the roof down.

Jacobsen - Saturday

All I kept hearing was a continuous wall of “DOOF- DOOF- DOOF.”

NASA - Saturday

It was a particularly incestuous Saturday night, even for Airwaves, even for Iceland.

Jacobsen - Friday

The awkward fact that the room was completely empty didn’t stop the fellow from sporting his best licks, but the cliché 80s samples were often a bit too much.

Iðnó – Saturday

They are so dorky that they end up being super cool. Same goes for their music. I’ve decided to vouch for Norway tonight.

Grand Rokk - Saturday

When I showed up at Grand rokk, I was dealing with some heavy repentance from the previous night. The final night of Airwaves was starting, and I was situated at Grand Rock, at that time the emptiest bar in the entire Northern hemisphere.

Sódóma - Saturday

Ten Steps Away did have moments in their set that were good. Bordering on great, even.

Reykjavík Art Museum - Saturday

The perfection of Árstíðir is apparent throughout their entire show, just as all their performances.

Hressó - Saturday

To save myself and the reader precious time in our short, fleeting lives, I have decided to forego the standard procedure of taking an account of a nihilistic drinking binge set to live music and dressing it up with florid prose in an attempt to make it look like a life-changing experience.

Batteríið - Saturday

I mean, screaming “TROUSERS!” fifty times during a song surely indicates the presence of some form of greatness, although as a lowly mortal I’m not supposed to get it.

Sódóma - Friday

I was hoping this night would suck but it didn´t.

Hressó – Friday

This night at Hressó was a Trúbatrix night. All female artists, troubadours. I must admit, I’m not walking through the door all over excited about the prospect.

Batteríið – Friday

With lines stretching into a soppy horizon, would-be Reykjavík Art Museum patrons balked and stumbled to join the packed crowd at Batteríið.
The first half of the night wasn’t that great, the second half exploded into its own.

Reykjavík Art Museum – Friday

This is basically the best high school crush music ever. Like that scene in the movie when the girl walks down the hall and the boy she likes is walking towards her and they lock eyes and it‘s all hormones and fear – IN SLOW MOTION!!! I love that part.

Iðnó – Friday

I am happiest in my bedroom when I share it with my community.

NASA - Friday

Toggi, Ingi and Monotown were the same classic-rock singer-songwriter fronted band at three different stages of competence, skill, progress and popularity, all of them infinitely more enjoyable live than on record, which may not be saying much, but I found them to be enjoyable enough in a good natured, ‘chummy’ sort of way.

Grand Rokk Friday


Fríkirkjan – Friday

I’m just going to come right out and say it: All you folks out there that didn’t manage to get a ticket to Kings of Convenience show – boy do I feel sorry for you.

Grand Rokk - Thursday

Grand Rokk has to be one the most press-friendly places these Airwaves. When I arrived, I was greeted by bartender Gunni, who directed me to the only chair in the house. It had been reserved for me. Conveniently enough, it was situated next to the bar. This was looking good.

Kaffibarinn – Thursday (off-venue)

When I feel, my words muddle and press, compress, express.


Iðnó - Thursday

At Iðnó, the festival's second night started, proceeded and ended at a very relaxed pace. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, although those looking for the place to cut loose on the dance floor would have been left a bit disappointed.

Reykjavík Art Museum - Thursday

Due to some unforeseen problems, I showed up as Rökkurró were almost done with their set. What I caught, I liked, as is to be expected when this band is involved.

Jacobsen - Thursday

Another example of the proliferation of new electronic crews in Iceland, we saw local crew I [heart] RVK teaming up with London event crew ATG to promote their DJs and producers upstairs, and in charge of the downstairs line-up.

Hressó - Thursday

Sometimes instinct is everything. When I put my hand up to take the job of reviewing Hressó, I thought I was going to see some crap noise/punk bands.

Batteríið - Thursday

The Swedes are taking over The Battery! Thursday night boasted three of the festival‘s Swedish hotshots, and the energy in the place was electric.

Fríkirkjan - Thursday

Most languages in the world are comprised of both a visual and an aural component, so it was with intrigue that I entered S.L.Á.T.U.R.'s congregation to see a set-up featuring instruments and a video-projection screen. Noticeably missing from the list of bios in Airwave's brochure, S.L.Á.T.U.R. is a collective of composers who devise and perform non-traditional music and conduction techniques.


NASA - Thursday

Jesus Christ. For the first time ever people are actually in time for a show in Iceland. And there are even shitloads of people stacked in NASA although it’s as insanely early as 19:30. The crowd didn’t come for nothing, that’s for sure. Not with Fjallabræður, the big-ass man’s choir doing their thing.     

Sódóma - Thursday

What‘s the deal with Soundspell’s singer‘s weird pantomime guitar move? Soundspell were very ‘cutting edge’ and ‘experimental’, but I won’t hold that against them. They were quite innovative, in their own oblivious way, and the fact that they managed to make their kind of music interesting to watch is pretty remarkable. Cool.

Batterííð - Wednesday

Word. Or whatever. Batteríið was the place to be for hiphop fans (particularly Icelandic hiphop) on the opening night of Airwaves, boasting a full line up of local street poets.

Sheer Magic

Shit. I mean, wow. Where to begin? Can mere words even do justice to the emotion KK and Árstíðir evoked during two too short hours at Fríkirkjan?

Grand Rokk - Wednesday

Yes. Clarinet. Single most awesome instrument of the type you blow through. I was impressed by the clarinet.

Jacobsen - Wednesday

The electronic music scene in Iceland has probably never been stronger. It seems every night a new band, a new collective or a new club night is born. It’s simply the most promising scene in Iceland right now and, hey, the kids seem to like it.

NASA - Wednesday

Except for a hive of photographers up front, NASA was largely empty as Me, the Slumbering Napoleon took the stage. I know 19:30 is early people, but this is a festival, and sometimes the real diamonds are hiding in the rough.

Sódóma - Wednesday

 Led by Icelandic folk star Þórir (of My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, Gavin Portland, Deathmetal Supersquad) , melancholic trio Bummer started the night, striking some intensively sentimental tones. In some ways, the band bore a rather righteously coined moniker, ‘cause what they boasted tonight was a slight bummer opposed to anything else. 

First Night Down

So our first night of music and mayhem is behind us, pretty much. It's been good. We've been around. We went dancing at Retro Stefson (Sódóma - KIMI night), we moshed through Me, The Slumbering Napoleon, we slack-jawedly gazed at Pascal Pinon and their bracy-goodness.

Airwaves Blog #1!

O.M.F.G. you guys!!!

Moto Boy

Mozzer—were you in Sverige 20-odd years ago? We think you were…


Oh yes! Dubby, poppy, swinkly basslines, Mr Oizo-esque bubbly farty electro-kazoo noises! Jaunty drums!


Who’d have thought that being in debt would make you famous these days? For the sake of five grand owed to a car scrappers’ yard, Pip has been forever immortalised in bleeps, beeps

Iceland Airwaves 2009 Venues

Your guide to the venues at this year's festival!

Skátar's Self Inflicted Death Blow

Talk about leaving a gap in the Icelandic independent music landscape. Skátar have decided to throw in the towel and I'm not too stoked about that.

To Ride, Shoot Straight...

Entombed are holed up in their dressing room, busy rehearsing a stand-in bassist, as mainstay Nico Elgstrand had a baby just the previous Monday.

Lost in Translation

I couldn’t believe it; the goddamn front door to Sódóma was closed! I had thought I was an hour late, so I shat myself and ran there, dodged the tourists, hopped over the cats – all trying my best not to vomit whilst doing so.  


Girls Moderately Aloud

HOT. The only word that needs be used in order to fully describe the atmosphere when my colleague and I walked into Hemmi and Valdi.

Of Course I Remember You

Manstu ekki eftir mér (“Don't you remember me?”) is a new concert series that – not unlike ATP's ‘Don't look back’ series – aims to bring back classic albums for people to experience in a live setting. The+ first band to partake were Ensími, who performed their classic album Kafbátamúsík.

The Dark Night

Getting soaked in the rain is always the best start to an evening. So much for the summer! I walked into Grand Rokk like a drowned rabbit; the mixed smell of alcohol and damp precipitation was enough to put a grown-ish man right off. But in the name of indie-rock, and more importantly journalism, I braved the senses and ventured upstairs.

Nordic Sludge At It´s Best

I had to weave past the drunks spewed at the bar and the drunks gambling their last króna on fruit machines to reach the stairs of Grand Rokk – kinda like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones – only to be told that the show started an hour after the time listed on the flyer. Naturally I occupied my time by drowning my sorrows with a fine Icelandic beer and watching the copious amounts of folk celebrating Iceland’s runner up award in the Eurovision song contest.

Passion, Not Just Fashion

During my uneventful trek to Kaffi Hljómalind, my hardcore-dar was expecting the very worst surrounding this evening, due to a number of reasons. Upon arrival, my doubts were initially confirmed. Hljómalind had turned itself into a fashion parade, fake geek glasses galore.

The Waiting Game

Having been born with the curse of punctuality, I entered Nýlenduvöruverslun Hemma og Valda at 21:00, only to be informed that the concert would not start for at least another 45 minutes because of a show going on next door where they were using some of the equipment needed for the night’s gig.

The Noises of the Underground

Nýlenduvöruverslun Hemma og Valda may not look like much of a concert venue to the untrained eye. But to those in the know, it's a completely different story.

Shorts, Beer-guts & Blastbeats

Owing to the fact that by some freak accident of nature the promoter managed to stick to the posted schedule, I rob myself of the always enjoyable Celestine, whose Cult of Neurosis style post-metal (for lack of a better definition) was probably as devastating in its heaviness and despair as usual.

Hard Rock At Grand Rokk

It seems hardly a month can go by without another of Reykjavík’s few suitable live venues going under, so seeing Grand Rokk getting back into the game is a thing to celebrate. Once one of Reykjavík´s most popular rock venues, it was sadly transformed into a sports bar a couple of years ago. But now, after a bout of rarely straying away from big screen football, the doors are once again open to those that take sweaty musicians over sweaty athletes.  



Ratatat fucked up.
Well, it wasn’t their fault entirely. There were other fuck-ups involved. And maybe theirs wasn’t even the biggest fuck-up. But somebody fucked up, and I have a strong feeling Ratatat were one of the involved parties.


A Short Trip to Hopeland

The band's excellent musical appearance was complemented by an elaborate technical staging.

Broads and Balloons

A dignified performance from Mammút

Tellier: The French Eargasm

Sebastian and his band if uber-hip Franks played together beautifully and gave the crowd just what they wanted.

Thuggish, not Sluggish

It’s normally nice to have four diverse bands on a bill – the assumption being that things will build up nicely for the main act.

The Night of the Transvestites

     They started out their set with a few energetic songs, immediately igniting the crowd. The lead singer, whose guitar plug was wireless allowing him to run freely around the bar, went berserk as soon he realised that the baffling crowd encircling him would be an obstacle to his intended rampage.

Metal: Industrial Strength

Celebrating the release of their respective albums and the formation of their own record label, Molestine Records, two Reykjavík metal bands, Momentum and Celestine, seized the old Iðnó theatre by the Reykjavík pond for a night of industrial strength metal music.

All Bark and No Bite

I must say that the extremely merry atmosphere at Organ on Gay Pride Night overwhelmed me a bit upon entry, but in a moment I settled down with the thought of this gathering being an uplifting change from the rather sweaty and stiff atmosphere usually prevailing at the premises.

Rock 'n' Responsibilities

Four left-field bands – Benni Hemm Hemm, Reykjavík!, Morðingjarnir and Borko – circled the whole of Iceland in a rickety bus along with their work-laden label manager, playing a bunch of shows in the process. The Grapevine was represented in the form of staff journalist-slash-Reykjavík! guitarist Haukur S Magnússon, who relates some of the journey’s many peaks and valleys below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Steed Lord are about to embark on a month long trip of the States, which will see them supporting Chromeo. In Reykjavík tonight, they raise the roof as the home crowd loves them.

A Midsummer Night's Boogie

I have to note that going to a Trentemöller concert is a special event for me. Arriving at Tunglið, I pondered if it would be a challenge to remain completely unbiased in my review.

Deafening Silence

Björk took the animal metaphor to a new level, dressed in a spotted rainbow-coloured headdress that made her resemble some glamorous human koala bear

Formulatic but Fun

Benni Hemm Hemm & Ungfónía at Iðnó

Icelandic Hip-hop Grows Up

It's time for a new generation to step up and bring Icelandic hip-hop to the next level









Ganging Up

Who: Royal Fortune, Benny Crespo’s Gang
Where: Organ
When: September 27, 2007

Borderline OK


Saving Iceland Mega Concert

Who: Various artists Where: NASA When: July 2, 2007

Thrash Revival

Who: Trassar, I Adapt, Bootlegs, Changer Where: Gaukurinn When: July 6, 2007

Nubean Nintendo


Saint Simon




Those Crazy Kids, What Will They Think of Next?

No matter what anyone tells you, the 101 Reykjavík nightlife scene is druggy, and it is a cousin of both tears and regrets. People who frequent clubs and bars during the weekend are most likely found in the city’s movie theatres on Sunday nights, as those give a great excuse to not talk at all for two hours or so. Preferably more.

An Appreciated Invasion of Flying Stars and Inflated Santas

Who: Sufjan Stevens
Where: Fríkirkjan Church
When: November 18, 2006

Sugarcubes Reconnect and Eventually Triumph

Who: The Sugarcubes
Where: Laugardalshöll
When: November 17, 2006

Return to Form

Feminist philosopher Sandra Harding is perhaps best known for her critique on Western science’s claim to complete and utter objectivity and “universal reason”. According to her, true math-like objectivity can never be had, as any- and everyone’s view of the world is ultimately dependent (and thus tainted) by his/her viewpoint.

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