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.
Oh, we’ll not stop thinking about music. Music is a different thing altogether. We like to think about music all the time; we are really into doing that. We like listening to albums, going to shows, reading about music stuff on the internet or in books. Taking long walks with headphones, playing your friends a tune after dinner, singing along in the shower. It’s pretty great is what it is, all that music out there.
So yeah, no more Airwaves extravaganza-daily-updated-music-writing for a while, but we will be throwing our concert series with gogoyoko (the Grapevine Grand Rock and the Grapevine Grassroots endeavours – we’ve had some of the best local acts play at these outings in 2009, hopefully we can continue on that road) and we will be covering local shows, albums and various other antics. Lots of antics for us to cover.
This has been a bit of hard work, what we did; rounding up the whole festival and trying to make some sense of it all. We had people coming into the office at one AM after all the shows ended and writing until they fell asleep, pretty much. We had folks vomiting, writer-blocked, carpal tunnel syndrome’d, losing their passes and passing their losses. What we had, really, was a great big bunch of dedicated music lovers-slash-writers that did everything in their power to make sure they got in reviews for every single musical performance of the festival – on time, no less. And they succeeded, for the most part.
So as we upload the last review, we can with fair certainty say that we didn’t miss more than two or three acts’ performances. Tops. One of the writers overslept as Jónas Sigurðsson played his music at NASA, and another was called to an important meeting just as Helgi Valur & The Shemales were getting on stage for the final night at Sódóma. Both cases were a very unfortunate affirmation of our powerlessness when it comes to scheduling and punctuality.
But everyone else, we covered. Pretty much. As far as we can tell. Yeah.
“Why would you do this?” you ask. “Does anyone really need to read reviews of every single show at Airwaves?” you continue.
Well. We did this mostly because we could. We’ve done it in years past (albeit in print form), and it’s always been a fun part of the festival, whether you’re playing there or just attending for fun. You get to re-live your previous evening via the words of some writer who documented the venue that entire night (and through the lens of that photographer who was always hogging the best spots, getting in your way). And you maybe don’t agree with the writer’s assessment, and you may not be familiar with the photographer’s angle, but they still serve as starting points for some sort of conversation, whether it be with yourself or your friends or maybe the letters/comments section of the Grapevine. And we are big fans of inciting conversation, of fanning the flames of discourse.
And discourse doesn’t always have to be about super important life or death political stuff. It can also be about dumb, fun stuff. Like music.
Now, if you played one of the shows in question, the reviews can also be pretty useful. You get some guy or girl putting thought and words into describing your particular performance. You had someone sitting at four in the morning, drinking their umpteenth cup of coffee, trying to think of that one adjective that describes better than any other what you do, or what you did, or what you were trying to do.
Putting some effort in describing what went down, and how it appeared to him or her that given night.
And that can serve as a gateway for some great discourse within your band, or for your band. If nothing else, it will ensure a record of your being there at that particular place and moment in time exists, and will be accessible to future music lovers and archaeologists. Or at least until our hard drives break down. Imagine how stunning it will be for THE FUTURE’s teenagers all the way over in 2094 to read about Panoramix’s performance at Jacobsen on Airwaves Thursday 2009.
And if you disagree with a given assessment of your night, that’s fair, fine and to be expected. There is no final word on music and there can be no closing verdict. There should be conversation about it and discourse and disagreement and everyone making it – as well as everyone writing about it and listening to it – should strive at bettering themselves at all times.
I’ve been attending this festival for a bunch of years now. I’m getting old. This time around, I wasn’t able to take in as many performances as I would have liked. There was a lot of work to be done, running around, editing stuff and playing the occasional show [full disclosure: yours truly is a guitarist for the local rock band Reykjavík! – so any positive mention of that band on this website or anywhere near it should be read with that in mind. If a writer doesn’t like our music, they usually get fired].
But I did catch some shows, and I liked what I saw for the most part. I liked the spirit, the energy, enthusiasm and professionalism every single outfit I saw displayed. And the very evident passion. This held true whether they were playing for an empty Grand Rokk, a bookstore off-venue or to a packed, throbbing NASA. They all loved it.
They loved it as much as they seem to love every single show I see them play, and playing music in general. This is why I very strongly believe in the musicians that make up the Icelandic scene at the moment, and it is why I believe that they all have a great future. Loving what you do is the key to doing lovely things. Yeah.
Another thing that impressed me greatly, what I’ve come to hold as one of the principal reasons Airwaves often surpasses similar festivals of its calibre (and that’s not empty boasting – I’ve been around) is the amount of work the audience is willing to put into it. A band might only have four officially released tracks to their name (like Drums) and they still get to perform to a crowded venue brimming with folks that are singing along to their stuff. You had people queuing up for experimental ambient-noise shows. Couples slow-dancing obscure DJs or even more obscure acoustic duos. Festivalgoers seem eager to embrace and celebrate a lot of unheard music over the course of five days. That’s dedication.
I hope they all found something. Some melody or memory they can hold dear as it all crumbles down around them.
I thought I’d end this rambling jaunt by quoting the writer Haruki Murakami from his memoir I am reading right now, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I felt it struck a chord, somehow.
“As I mentioned before, competing against other people, whether in daily life or in my field of work, is just not the sort of lifestyle I’m after. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the world is made up of all kinds of people. Other people have their own values to live by, and the same holds true with me. These differences give rise to disagreements, and the combination of these disagreements can give rise to even greater misunderstandings. As a result, sometimes people are unfairly criticized. This goes without saying. It’s not much fun to be misunderstood or criticized, but rather a painful experience that hurts people deeply.
As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve gradually come to the realization that this kind of pain and hurt is a necessary part of life. If you think about it, it’s precisely because people are different from others that they’re able to create their own independent selves. Take me as an example. It’s precisely my ability to detect some aspects of a scene that other people can’t, to feel differently than others and choose words that differ from theirs, that’s allowed me to write stories that are mine alone. And because of this we have the extraordinary situation in which quite a few people read what I’ve written. So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets. Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.”
See you next year.
Photo by Julia Staples
Posted October 23, 2009