Not very typically Airwaves-like, the first show of the day featured not a rock band but a young guy on a grand piano. Nils Frahm from Germany wasn’t wearing tails and bow tie but a comfy hoodie and designer stubble. His piano improvisations sounded like autumn, like loneliness and melancholy with a bit of orange coloured late summer warmness. Iðnó has the perfect size and ambience for this kind of concert, the audience filled up the whole room, sitting on the floor and listening devoutly and quietly to Nils’ performance.
While the grand piano was leaving the stage the venue played some Billie Holiday as acoustic filler. Four guitar-necks, one of them belonging to a bass guitar, were announcing the second performance of Erased Tapes Records’ line-up for tonight. Codes In The Clouds made some noise strumming their guitars, performing an instrumental set without singing. Kind of rudely they asked the few remaining people sitting on the floor to stand up. At the end they said, that it was so much fun playing here, while their faces told a completely different story. Whatever.
Some more Billie Holiday, people were allowed to sit down again, and they did. Ólafur Arnalds came on stage, along with a sting quartet and a guy on general electronics. Ólafur’s keyboard itself was covered in electronical devises and a tangle of cable. This dreamy mellow sound they created showed that there are ways of combining electronics and classical elements that totally work. The autumn-theme continued, the romantic music was accompanied by black and white visuals of falling leaves, rain and the stormy sea. When Ólafur finished his set the whole audience got on their feet and said goodbye with standing ovations.
How did they manage to switch over from Billie to Rival Consoles? The only member of this act, stood with rounded shoulders in front of his electronical set, shaking spastic to the sounds he produced. It felt so right, he was so much in his element. The attendance might not have been so good, but those that showed up to listen to the one-man electronic force were dancing hard, a lot of sweat flying around.
Billie again and then: Basia Bulat, a singer-songwriter from Canada, flanked by two other girls, back round singing and playing violin and ukulele. Basia played various instruments starting with an auto harp and in the second song it was a hundred years old hammered harp (she also played other instruments like guitar and keys, but that is maybe not that spectacular as the first ones). And, yeah, she was singing – the first singing voice we heard so far tonight – with a strong voice, which broke just in the right moments. Flawlessly beautiful.
Lights on the Highway won the award for the band with the most audience that night, and that was not by accident. Those five guys played their melodic, rocky songs with interesting time changes and A, B, and C parts, with verve. What makes Lights on the Highway’s sound special is the well-arranged harmony singing. Unfortunately the sound mixing didn’t really managed to emphasize that. The crowd was totally into it, chanting ‘meira, meira’ to get an encore – but unfortunately they didn’t.
After the obligatory Billie Holiday intermission, Ourlives entered the stage. These four guys are easy on the eyes and easy on the ears. Playing some catchy and predictable pop-rock, they enjoyed themselves. Enough said.
The last band of the day, Náttfari, was a real treat. They did everything right, no embarrassing addressing the audience in between songs is one of those things. The guitar sounded like a guitar should sound like: just a little bit of distortion, no delay, yeah. Some slide guitar and some old strings squeaking along ones attached to the guitar added a psychedelic feel to the post rock-y sound. Melodic bass playing and exciting drumming completed the sound that felt more like the American Southern States than downtown Reykjavík. Hell yeah! Only flaw, kind of nobody was there to witness this gut-shaking Náttfari experience.
The last Billie song for tonight in the ear we were kicked out of Iðnó, after a lot of good performances and not enough beer in our blood system (totally overpriced: 800 ISK for a small bottle, come on!). The drizzling rain salutes us with its autumn-ness and rounds up a mostly amazing night.