First of all, we hope you read our last column and followed our advice about getting your Iceland Airwaves ticket because the festival announced this week that the 15th annual event is officially sold out. It seems that the festival only gets bigger with every year, attracting a record number of foreigners last year. In fact, the majority of passes were sold to foreigners for the first time in the festival’s history.
This year, the German technocratic quartet Kraftwerk will close the five-day music feast in the Harpa’s Eldborg hall on November 4 with their 3D show that has been touring the world’s finest museums this year. Other notable non-domestic acts are US indie giants Yo La Tengo, hype-gathering British garage duo AlunaGeorge, and a Swedish psychedelic afrobeat tribe called Goat.
But those who didn’t get a ticket don’t need to panic. There are tons of free off-venue concerts around downtown Reykjavík for the duration of the festival. Almost every café, bar, restaurant and shop in 101 Reykjavík is turned into a concert venue and some of our fondest Airwaves memories are of seeing bands like Hot Chip play off-venue in a tiny record store.
One of the bands playing Airwaves this year, múm, just released their sixth album this week. It is their first album since 2009 and marks the return of singer/cello player Gyða Valtýsdóttir who quit the band over a decade ago and the album is full of beautifully rendered and glitchy electronic pop. It’s in our opinion their best album since their 2002 ‘Finally We Are No One,’ and one of the frontrunners for the best Icelandic album of the year so far.
Last but not least, there is a new noteworthy band from Reykjavík, not playing Airwaves, called VAR. They have put out two beautiful songs that remind us a little bit of Sigur Rós. VAR are Myrra Rós Þrastardóttir and Júlíus Óttar Björgvinsson who have been playing music together in various forms over the years, such as Myrra Rós’s solo project. “VAR is a shelter for the sounds that were always floating around between us,” they say on their newfound Facebook page. Check out the song “Hve Ótt ég ber á.”