Airwaves

NASA – Wednesday

 
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. The three piece band looked a bit dwarfed by the grandiose stage, but as soon as the shred-scapades started, Me, the Slumbering Napoleon owned the audience, guiding them through a magnificently sludge-soaked musical adventure. Those that ran in early were privy to one of the best shows of the night.

Retrön took their time setting up, but we totally understand: adjusting your cape is critical if you plan on reintroducing a whole generation to 80s-era arena rock.  Out of some heavy feedback, wicked licks soared like eagles. Photographers were drawn like moths to a flame by the group’s face paint, spandex and all-around flashy get-ups. Retrön loved the attention and started shredding harder, looking meaner and shoving their man-junk into the lenses. What ensued was an uncomfortable display of public affection between cameras and crotches. Retrön held it together with over the top solos, even if they occasionally dipped into melodies that could have made a nice alternative to the title track for the original 90210.

Morðingjarnir took the stage and delivered a refreshingly tight, unpretentious set, screaming their lungs out to the delight of a group of 10 young guys going ape shit up front. The guys even had Kata of Mammút up for one track, which was possibly their best of the night.  

By the time Reykjavík! took the stage the crowd had filled out. Rumor has it Frímann Frímannsson himself was there, pressing against the barriers with the rest of the common folk. Swinging from croons to hisses to yells to mumbling, Reykjavík! blew NASA into a full-out party. And then, before anyone realized it, the singer leapt into the crowd. Let this be Christened as the first (of many, we hope) crowd-surfing sessions of Airwaves 2009. Five minutes later it happened again. And again. By the end of Reykjavík!´s set, the lead singer had trouble staying on stage like alcoholics have trouble saying no to drink. 

The stage was dark as Juvelen set up their equipment, but this only heightened the anticipation. Cheering and clapping at the first beat, the floor was quickly transformed into one swaying mass. “This looks like a dance floor” the lead singer mumbled, before imploring the audience to treat it as such. But the sheer mass of people prevented the kind of boogieing that Juvelen ´s Prince (or was it Michael Jackson?)-inspired melodies called for. Thankfully the audience could dance vicariously through the back-up singer, who strutted her stuff all over the stage, bobbing her head and clutching her hips in one of the best Mick Jagger bird-walks this reviewer’s ever seen.
I don’t know who made the call on this one, but throwing Kimono after Juvelen might not have been the best idea: even though their post-punk melodies were totally on point (occasionally channeling Sonic Youth, but clearer and more concise), their dark, sometimes brooding tracks knocked the night one rung down on the party-meter.  Note to self: dedicating your songs to Chinese acupuncturists is always awesome.
A whole slew of young men – Sudden Weather Change – took the stage and continued in Kimono’s vein, albeit sounding more Pavement, less Fugazi. Three guitars, one bass, and one drummer add up to a hell of a show, even if one of the guitarists was having chronic difficulties with his instrument. Maybe that’s why he finally gave up, abandoning his guitar to the surf of the crowd during the last song.

Posted October 15, 2009