Go off the grid, go crazy, save your money
By R.X. Beckett
As big as it is now, and getting bigger each year, Airwaves can still only contain so much. Not every band that applies gets in and tickets do sell out, sometimes two months in advance, which then brings on the waterworks. But it’s time to dry those eyes, as the festival’s off-venue programming more than makes up for what the festival couldn’t squeeze onto its official roster.
We caught up with Josh Coplon, an Iceland Airwaves intern and student in music business at Berklee College of Music, who has spent the past couple of months tirelessly putting together the off-venue schedule. The entire programme consists of 47 venues hosting shows on all or most of the five-day event, all to be over by 20:00. The best part is that everything is free! Here are a few of Josh’s picks for unmissable off-venue events.
Icelandic bands at JÖR
Designer and local haberdasher Guðmundur Jörundsson doesn’t just dress the cool bands of Reykjavík, he’s also related to them, his brother being a member of Retro Stefson. To celebrate Airwaves, he will throw open the doors of his fancy shop to host daytime concerts by the monsters of touristcore! Expect sets from folks like Sykur, Sin Fang, and of course, Retro Stefson.
KEXP at KEX
Now as much a part of Airwaves as wristbands, line-ups and crying that it’s over, the programme at KEX sponsored and recorded by Seattle’s KEXP radio is a must-go event. “I thought it would host more international bands, but it is actually super focused on Icelandic ones,” Josh said, who enthused that he is extremely excited about this one. Last year’s festival began with GusGus playing a KEXP set to a packed house, so the precedence for greatness is set.
Bedroom Community’s Whale Watching Boat
Back in 2010, the reigning artists of the Bedroom Community pooled their talent and compositions and hit the road with the Whale Watching Tour. It was all filmed for a documentary which garnered much praise, and now they will be screening it on a whale watching boat down in the old harbour. There may even be a few performances! The boat won’t set sail, but your soul will drift away with bliss.
Harpa’s triple threat
The Bedroom Community aren’t the only ones with a boat party though! Harpa’s long running up-and-comer series Undercurrents will also have their own marine vessel venue (the “oakboat”), located off the dock behind the concert hall. But that’s not all! As well as being an official venue, Harpa will have two more off-venues at the 12 Tónar store and in the Kolabrautin bar. So if you don’t want to face the weather, head to the glass monolith as soon as you get up and stay put.
Canadian Blast at Stúdentakjallarinn
This is another long-running off-venue event, with Iceland and Canada’s cultural connection reaching above and beyond some immigration in the 19th century. Canada has always been one of the most highly represented international contigents (Montreal especially, with another off-venue showcase hosted by M For Montreal). This year, the blast will be headlined by electro-indie darlings We Are Wolves, making us party like it’s 2006 again!
METZ at Bar 11
Finally, Josh’s personal favourite off-venue pick is the (also Canadian) band METZ who was specially requested to play by Bar 11 among the rest of their stellar programming. “They are really heavy so I don’t know if it’s for everyone, but they are amazing,” Josh said. Of course, Bar 11 is where the heavy off-venue music is usually found so anyone heading there shouldn’t be surprised. And from the sounds of it, they certainly won’t be disappointed!