I have no idea why I missed Jónas Sigurðsson & Malbikið Svífur’s set. OK. I know. I overslept. A lot. And despite gathering up a sweat running down Laugavegur, despite getting my feet wet and tripping over someone’s bike in the rush, I still didn’t make it there in time. It sucked. I am very sorry. From what I gather, the growing audience was happy with his thing. I wish I could have been part of that.
Watching Jeff Who? perform is always a pleasure. There are some seriously accomplished musicians playing in that band, and their brand of Strokes-pop is unusually hooky and forthright. That said, their Airwaves set didn’t feature any surprises. Just good, solid playing. And that is fine, every once in a while. Not everyone has to knock your socks off and smack you in the face.
Feldberg are a relatively new addition to Reykjavík’s music scene, even though most of the band are seasoned vets (including Einar Tönsberg of Eberg and Rósa of Sometime fame). I guess you could call them a supergroup. They’ve had a couple of radio hits via songs from various TV adverts, and have now announced a full LP of their music is due before Christmas. Judging by their performance tonight, it is packed with listener-friendly radio hits and will likely sit under quite a few trees this December. In short: this band of seasoned pros did not disappoint one bit. It also should be noted that it’s very refreshing to hear Rósa sing outside of Sometime, that girl really has a unique and pleasant voice.
I quite liked BC’s set of semi-gothy pop. I still have a big problem explaining why. In fact, I got into a big argument with a friend who disagreed, and whom I did not manage to sway. It just worked for me – at the same time I don’t expect anyone else to necessarily like it. Even though they should. Let’s leave it at that.
Roxette sums up US-based music outfit Jessica 6 well: “She’s got the look.” Jessica 6 looked poised to overpower Nasa with their too-cool attitude and too-hot locks and frocks (lead Nomi Ruiz stunned in sequin-studded bustier, black lace, thigh-high patent-leather heels, and floor-length satin cape eventually traded for a bolero leather jacket). But looks can be deceiving. By the third song, it was apparent Jessica 6 had little more than one song, ad nauseam, to offer the crowd. Ruiz’s clever costume adjustments (reset bra strap, tuck in breast, pull out a wedgie), cloaked by some rather impressive dance moves, still didn’t hide the fact that her band’s sound was boring. Nevertheless, many drunk eighteen-year-olds pressed to the front of Nasa and were eventually rewarded for their trouble by a rockin’ Retro Stefson set (arguably the best set of the night).
I thought I was in the clear with my prime spot on a rafter on the left balcony. Boy, was I wrong. People just kept coming and coming and packing the place in like monkeys in a bed.
Retro Stefson came out quickly after Jessica 6 left the stage and started a technically wonky set (no fault of their own) packed with their hits and crowd pleasers. This was the first band I saw at this year’s Airwaves, and the next to last, and it seems they don’t have a single song that isn’t a crowd pleaser. I’m not so partial to a few of them, but the energy and talent these kids bring together induces much jealousy in me and I am never disappointed to watch their funktastic dance storms.
Retro Stefson just went on and on and on and kept playing until their friends FM Belfast had set up their laptop and were rearing to go. The seamless transition between acts kept the audience energy at a premium and the sardines packed in even tighter. Oh fuck. The band are real pros, they know what they are doing, they do it well and fuck you, they won’t do what you tell them. A gang of their friends keep coming on and off stage for group choruses and power-clapping until they give up and just stay there flailing and tambourining. It’s a best friends forever love-dance fest!
Unfortunately, despite the happiness onstage and around me, the over-packed house and poor ventilation began to exacerbate all the Blue Lagoon water I swallowed that afternoon and I had to run out for fresh air. Once outside though, the line up to get in was so long and thick that security were not even granting re-entry for media pass holders. Luckily, one of my fellow writers who I had made aware of my tummy troubles ran over and sweet talked a security guard into letting him in (which seemed like something only an Icelander would have been capable of) and I was suddenly relieved of my duty.
I have mixed feelings about this as I probably won’t ever have the chance to see Trentemøller or Kasper Bjørke ever again, much less in the same night, and I missed them both due to a sketchy stomach and an overcrowded venue. Bummer.
In the spirit of consummate professionalism that Grapevine embodies, I took the Graveyard shift at Nasa. This was just after hearing lead singer of Klink scream about them being tough cookies and not at all like those E-popping sissies in Trentemöller. I of course ended up seeing the members of Klink at Nasa later that night, perfectly happy hobnobbing with the other bands and having a cracking time.
Ah, Trentemöller, sometimes I wonder if the man comes preinstalled to the festival. Trente must be in his third or fourth year now, bless his heart. Kicked the ceiling off the place like always, not as great as 2007 but I definitely would rather have him at Nasa than Hafnarhúsið (lower ceilings for one thing).
I’ve watched Trentemöller come up and it’s been a joy. He’s gone from strength to strength in the last four years. Take Me Into Your Skin still remains, in the opinion of this lonely journalist one of the key electronic anthems for the noughties. He somehow managed to do a song that covered 5 different styles of music, at least four segments and only after several minutes, dead-ends and U-turns does he deliver the techno crescendo everyone is waiting for…and even then it’s subdued.
Last night was the usual mix of his own songs and others. He gave us Vamp, that whirred on jazzily with its military drums a nice soundtrack for those Scandinavian vampires on the prowl (more than a few present last night – although no Eric Northman, sigh…). Take Me Into Your Skin was cut up and stretched out over the set, shook hands with Britney, ran a few laps through the favelas of Rio before settling in a Moroccan village in the 1920s for a bit longer than it should have.
Trentemöller packed the place and the line was obnoxious but frankly I found it missing something – people were dancing but there wasn’t that manic energy that I’ve come to expect from the Airwaves club night.
It was a particularly incestuous Saturday night, even for Airwaves, even for Iceland. Kasper Björke having remixed Trentemöller, FM Belfast having collaborated with Kasper Björke, FM Belfast and Retro Stefson being one stage show away from blobbing into the same band. One big, sexy family reunion and still not quite as crazy as you’d expect. It was the club night of Airwaves 2009 and I believe everyone had a good time. That’s about it. Thanks for all the fish (and Yanqui dollar).
Photos by Julia Staples
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Posted October 18, 2009