As you may have noticed, this issue is rather heavy on the Airwaves. That’s for a good reason. The festival is just over a week away, is already selling out and anyone who’s even glanced at the line-up for the 2007 edition can tell you why. Featuring a – frankly – ludicrously grandiose assortment of basically everyone who’s written, recorded or performed decent-to-great tunes in the general vicinity of Iceland lately, the latest count of performing acts stood at 217. That’s 217 laboured over, thought out, over-practiced 30-to-90 minute sets of music to be sought out, experienced, fawned over or appalled by in the space of five days.
So, now’s your cue to plan ahead. The schedule is available at icelandairwaves.com, as are mp3s by a majority of the artists – pictures and overly informative bios, too. If you plan on attending, spend some time getting acquainted with what lies ahead, and map out what you want to see and when. Below are some tips. If not, then go read some other article for a while.
Sprengjuhöllin (IS) – Lídó, Thur. 23:00 Many wrote Sprengjuhöllin off as some sort of bourgeoisie intellectualist joke when they first started playing their partied out concerts a couple of years back, but they have since consistently proved to be one of the best (and certainly the most relevant) acts to surface in Iceland for a while now.
Their out-next-week album, Tímarnir Okkar, is a surefire hit, and for a good reason too. Valgeir Sigurðsson’s organic production work gives their well crafted pop the pivotal boost it needs to stand out like it was meant to. Sprengjuhöllin’s genius lies not the least in the fact of how well they manage to convey the life, times and discourse of modern Iceland. This means they might get lost on the non- Icelandic speaking crowd, but their presence and charm will certainly counter that.
I Adapt (IS) – Gaukurinn, Fri. 01:00
Another relevant Icelandic band with a killer new album out, I Adapt are the kings of Icelandic live music as much as they are the kings of its not-soburgeoning HxC scene. Whilst this Airwaves countdown has sought to spotlight only Airwaves’ newcomers, the sheer, inspiring awesomeness of their third LP, Chainlike Burden, merits them a mention. If they are even half as energetic and powerful at Airwaves as they were when I saw them a week ago, I Adapt will reign supreme over the rest of the heavy set – and along with Gavin Portland, the hardcore show to see if you’re not into Hardcore.
Buck 65 (CA) – Iðnó, Fri. 00:00
Much like Deerhoof, Buck 65 is in a league of his own, one practically handcrafted by himself. Having repeatedly proved himself to be one of the most noteworthy and innovative voices in modern Hip Hop (especially its experimental branch), the young Canadian continues to astonish. This is confidently (possibly arrogantly, definitely effortlessly) demonstrated on his new LP Situation – likely Hip Hop’s first and only concept album about the fifties. While Snow turns in a pretty good performance on Informer, Buck 65 is most definitely Canada’s awesomest rapper, ever.
The Diversion Sessions (IS) – Organ, Wed. 19:30
Diversion Sessions is a solo side-project of blushingly talented Skátar frontperson Markús Bjarnason. It is his venue for acoustic, laid-back stylings sprinkled with higher (or more audible) doses of the lyrical insights that greatly contribute to Skátar’s greatness. Judging by the hypnotic impromptu acoustic set I saw him perform at a shady Aldrei Fór Ég Suður afterparty in 2005, you’re in for some magical stuff at his Airwaves appearance.
Múgsefjun (IS) – Organ, Wed. 21:45
No matter how long they’ve been putting off recording their waited-for début, Múgsefjun is still an extremely hard working bunch, and their finely orchestrated take on folksy pop rock provides ample evidence of that. Intricate melodies, subtly Buckleyist vocals and a playful spirit serve to make their stage act memorable and entrenching. Their lack of recorded output has hindered this group from being as noted as they perhaps should be, but that all stands to change soon.
Deerhoof (US) – Gaukurinn, Fri. 23:00
Recommending Deerhoof is really only a formality. They are veterans, they are the kings of their very own patented brand of indie, indie rock, and (in some circles) command more respect than almost all of the bands at Iceland Airwaves 2007 put together. There’s really no excuse to miss ‘em.