Published November 5, 2013
Amsterdam, Sunday, the final night. Passable pub, can’t complain but for the 2k ISK double Jameson. Suggestion: use that money to fix your damn bathroom.
Gang Related sported a front line of four with high-strapped electric guitars and one low-slung bass. Two mics for twin lyrics, another for English banter (and introducing themselves as Kraftwork, and expecting a full house – points for being funny). They launched into casual but energetic West Coast U.S.A. surf-tinged rock, like Pavement’s grandchildren with anthemic yelling in place of song dynamics. They finally deviated from a constant tempo on their second-to-last and strongest song of the night — a little contrast is always nice for keeping a festival-weary crowd on its toes. They threw in a few nice chord changes and shuffling tempo shifts, some positive vibes, and called it a night. Not half-bad, lads.
The room filled fully for Oyama, chatter slow to hush over the quintet’s slow-building drone. Mallet-muted drums plodding along under Júlía’s tempo-locked syllables spelled out dark and sleepy shoegaze, resonant like cold wind through winding canyons, punctuated by the occasional rock slide break down. A midpoint rock-out gets the crowd bouncing—the band may be known for slow, but tonight their strong moments were these sporadic outbursts. The sound quality was passable, though I’m not sure the system was up to Oyama’s miniature wall of sound, or that the band could quite hear itself to harmonise. Perhaps a little more sedate than usual after playing every night of the festival (again!), they closed with a fit of cacophonous sludge and tired smiles.
Æla greeted us with spastic shouts and haphazard vocals, underpinned by rolling tempo shifts and jangling guitar played by an already tall man standing on a stool. Their music is enjoyably angular, synchronised anarchy that refuses to stay put for long, with a jester bassist who has a penchant for mocking the frontman’s singing — you have to enjoy a talented band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. The musical chaos plateaued via their antics — the singer leaps up onto a chair, wearing less clothing as the set progressed. He took off his shirt to reveal a lamé cummerbund, and took his pants down to reveal a fluorescent tutu. A guitar remote enabled him to stroll around the crowd, and then up onto the bar, the industrial lamps clanging along with his strumming, culminating a surprise shoulder ride back to the stage. His second offstage adventure featured a break from playing for a shot of Topas. Fun as it was, Halli claimed the previous night’s show trumped this one, thanks to an over-enthusiastic fan who jumped onstage and proceeded to æla all over their pedals. Who knew the Icelandic word for “puke” would be so fun say?
The Vintage Caravan purged the venue of anyone unserious about sucking the marrow out of god’s night, and packed it quick with those who needed to end Airwaves with a bang. Shred, wail, shout and steel, speaker stacks on tilt, devil horns springing up from the fully stoked room… “Expand your mind. EXPAND YOUR MIND!” Óskar’s hip-length hair arcing through the air, Alexander high-fiving the front row between riffs, when he wasn’t holding it down from within the crowd. Guðjón’s unrelenting rhythm had even security nodding their heads. Three separate mosh pits steamed up the windows—one threatening to take out the slot machines at the back. There’s no need for fancy stage lights with a band this manic and an audience this hyped. Rad set. Night done. Festival finished. I am satisfied.