By Bryan Riebeek. Photo by Hlynur Hafstein
Of the 216 bands playing at Iceland Airwaves this year, 156 of them are Icelandic. Thus, Icelandic musicians will make up the bulk of what we hear, and will spend countless hours entertaining us for the duration of the festival, being the soundtrack to our late night/early mornings as well as the soothing background to our hangover recoveries.
There is a strong work ethic when it comes to music in Iceland, and Iceland Airwaves gives them the chance to show the world what they’ve been working on. It also gives us, the festival go-ers, a chance to show our appreciation by letting the rest of the world know about the bands we hear, as well as purchase music from these artists, which helps them continue their craft.
One of the most important things you can do is share with the rest of the world what you like. Facebook, Twitter. Text and blog about these bands, find a YouTube clip or Soundcloud track and share away. After all, exposure is a great thing, and no matter where you call home, someone you know is going to dig it as well.
If you like what you hear, support the artist by purchasing their albums and merchandise. The most convenient method for purchasing music or merch and not having to carry it around is to buy it at the off-venue shows. The crowds tend to be smaller and sometimes you get to personally thank the artist while buying their music. This also gives you the ability to drop off your purchases before heading out for the long nights of gigs. Kex hostel will yet again have their pop-up music market, which focuses on the local independent musicians in the event that you cannot make it to an artist’s off-venue gig.
A hard lesson I have learned is that there are certain albums and artists that you will not find outside of Iceland. Even in the digital age, there are just some collaborations and musicians whose music is only available at the festival, so do not hesitate to pick up their albums while at the festival, it may be your only chance.
Reykjavik is home to three amazing record shops, including 12 Tónar, which has a very friendly and knowledgeable staff, a great listening basement where you can sample to your heart’s content, and I’ve yet to walk out of there without having heard four times the music I went in for. The staff there will find exactly the type of music your looking for, and music you now can’t live without. Lucky Records is at a new location this year and has an incredible amount of vinyl. And last but not least, Smekkleysa music shop is an Icelandic staple that should be on everyone’s to-do list when visiting Reykjavík.
With well over 200 bands performing this year, taking some time to familiarize yourself with the bands, venues and atmosphere will go a long way. Grapevine has a dedicated blog journal with news, changes, and interviews with bands and insiders, the Iceland Airwaves website lists all bands playing with links to their websites and samples of their music, as well as the schedules and maps you will need. And I have an Iceland music blog, in which I’ve loosely sorted all the Icelandic musicians playing the festival, linking their names to their streaming music.
So, remember take time to thank the local musician for their contribution, perhaps pick up an album or two, and let everyone that couldn’t make it know about the diversity in musical genres Icelandic musicians have to offer.