You can still take part in some of the awesome festival fun!
By Anna Andersen
Attention tourists who for some reason decided to visit Iceland at the end of October/beginning of November, you’ve probably noticed that there is this crazy music festival going on called Iceland Airwaves. Unfortunately it’s been sold out for months, but you can still experience the festival madness at hundreds of AWESOME and totally free off-venue shows. Even fancy wristband-holders will probably want to check a bunch of these out.
While we typically try to avoid interviewing our friends and co-workers, the person in charge of putting together this year’s extensive off-venue schedule happens to be the Grapevine’s photographer Alísa Kalyanova. Having worked on it since mid-August, she is proud of the fruits of her labour: nearly double the number of venues as last year and a record number in Airwaves history.
With the goal of appealing to all ages—young people, old people and non-wristband holders alike—the following are some exciting shows scheduled all over town, at bus stations, restaurants, bars, bookstores, hotels, shoe stores, clothing stores, chapels, concert halls, movie theatres, schools and more. They come with Alísa’s blessings. Just good luck making it to half of what you want to catch…
Kaffibarinn is once again Bedroom Community’s official off-venue site this year. Expect to see Nico Muhly, Puzzle Muteson, Sam Amidon, Daníel Bjarnason and Ben Frost playing
9:00-10:00 Rock & Bacon
Enjoy live music with your hangover breakfast, if you happen to be up at 9 AM and the musicians themselves haven’t overslept!
15:00-19:00 Asonat, Futuregrapher, DJ AnDre, Beatmakin Troopa, Tonik
Go hang out at Reykjavík’s main bus terminal and enjoy some of Iceland’s finest electronica. This will be the first time Airwaves throws a concert at this location, which has featured in a number of films including Ólafur Sveinsson’s 2002 documentary ‘Hlemmur’ (“Last Stop”). Fun fact: Sigur Rós composed the soundtrack to that film.
You may have noticed that Ísafjörður’s great Mugison is not anywhere to be found on the Airwaves schedule this year. But thankfully he will play one very special off-venue show at this design house down by the harbour. If you haven’t seen Mugison, go. If you have seen Mugison, you know what to do.
16:00-18:00 Sindri Eldon and The Ways, Jón Þór, Hollow Veins, AMFJ
Go rock out at this Breiðholt bus station (and not just because The Grapevine is heavily represented here). It’ll start calm, and then get progressively louder and louder and louder. Alísa made AMFJ promise that he would not break the PA, but earplugs are still recommended. Go get grungy.
Mál og Menning
18:00 Dr. Gunni
Mál og Menning will only host one off-venue show this year. It’s a release show for ‘Stuð vors lands’ (“Pop Music In Iceland”) written by renowned music critic and occasional Grapevine contributor Dr. Gunni. Some of Iceland’s legendary singers will perform their best-known songs with Dr. Gunni’s band. Airwaves Festival Director Grímur Atlason has promised to make an appearance as a bass player, so you all have to be there.
Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr will perform with Sigurjón Kjartansson of HAM as the duo Kleópatra. They will sing ridiculously funny songs in Icelandic, so you will probably get more out of this if you speak the language, but you should go anyway. This is our mayor, come on!
The legendary rock band HAM at Icelandic Bar is a must-see event for all polar bear and puffin lovers alike. Read a feature interview with HAM in 2011’s Issue 14, which you can find, along with lots and lots of old Grapevines, in the basement at Laundromat (which is also hosting off-venue shows).
Salvation Army Chapel
You should drop by at some point to admire the beauty of this hidden gem of a chapel, which many probably didn’t know existed. It’s the first time the chapel has agreed to host off-venue shows.
Harpa is Airwaves headquarters this year. In addition to the official venues, there will be three off-venues: Munnharpan (the downstairs café), Kolabrautin (the upstairs restaurant and bar) and 12 Tónar (downstairs music store). You can basically just park yourself down there and spend the entire day enjoying non-stop concerts. But at least be sure to catch Steindór Andersen and Hilmar Örn’s exclusive concert at 12 Tónar on Thursday at 17:00 and Tilbury and Úlfur at Kolabrautin on Saturday starting at 15:20. Kolabrautin will also be serving up some tasty, fresh-baked pizza.
Don’t miss Hjaltalín deliver a live performance of their score to the silent feature film, ‘Days of Gray,’ about the coming-of-age adventures of a young boy and girl.
KEX will once again be hosting KEXP radio, which will be live steaming all of the shows at this cosy hostel. Go early and snag a seat because it’s bound to be packed. If you miss anything though, you can go to KEXP.org and you will likely find it.
Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð (MH)
At 16:00 on Friday, after school gets out for the day, HM will turn into an off-venue. Go see where half of Iceland’s musicians went to high school and enjoy the programme including RetRoBot, who won this year’s Battle of the Bands, Gísli Pálmi (who may be on the cover of the paper you are holding) and a bunch of others.
Reykjavík used to have a popular bar called Sirkus. It unfortunately closed its doors in 2008 after an almost decade-long running. These days, the building houses a store called Macland. Macland and Hemmi og Valdi are putting their forces together to throw a party outside on the old Sirkus port. So the party returns for four days—Wednesday through Saturday—with dozens of Icelandic and foreign acts. If you’re looking for a party, this is the off-venue for you.
Hressó will have two stages: one outside under a tent hosting day-time shows and another inside with acoustic sessions. The outside programme will be packed with a bunch of Canadians and fresh Icelandic acts like Kiriyama Family, Caterpillarmen and Sudden Weather Change.
We wish we could write about more of these off-venue shows, but due to limited space on this page, this will have to do for now. Go to the official festival website or grab the nearest Airwaves booklet to check out the rest. Finally, there may be some secret shows, including a midnight gig at Hótel Borg (Shhh…don’t tell anyone), so keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the ground.
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!