The brightest spot of the typically gloomy and rainy weeks of the Icelandic autumn is undoubtedly the Airwaves music festival. Attracting thousands from around the world each year, the popularity of the festival is booming. So much so, in fact, that at the time of this writing there are only a few tickets left available (under 1.000)—months before the festival actually begins. It would seem as well that most of this attention comes from the overseas market, as there are 50% more package deals (tickets plus airfare and hotel accommodation) sold than last year.
This is due in no small part to the fact that Björk Guðmundsdóttir will be playing at the Harpa music hall during the festival, with seats and standing room available for two shows on a “first come, first served” basis for Airwaves ticket holders. According to festival organisers, Björk’s show will “feature a range of specially conceived and crafted instruments, among them a bespoke digitally-controlled pipe organ; a 30 foot pendulum that harnesses the earth’s gravitational pull to create musical patterns—creating a unique bridge between the ancient and the modern and a bespoke gamelan-celeste hybrid. These devices reveal some of the physical processes that are the subject matter of the songs.”
BJÖRK IS NOT ALONE
Björk playing at Airwaves is big news in itself, but she’s not the only act set to perform. Among other famous names, Yoko One and the Plastic Ono Band will also grace the stage. That’s two living female legends in the same music festival, and while these two acts in themselves would make for a great time, there are still other high-calibre acts in the mix.
First on the list is the British alternative rock band The Vaccines (featuring a fancy Icelandic bass player, Árni Hjörvar of Future Future, etc.). From the other side of the Atlantic is an altogether different act, Brooklyn’s black metal band Liturgy. While America isn’t exactly renowned for its output of black metal acts, one review of these guys described their sound as “a minimalist, grim, dissonant and blizzardly fast black-metal sound exhibited in their debut recording ‘Renihilation’ that could rival with the grimiest and disgustingly-looking band coming out from the depths of Norway.”
As far as Icelandic artists go, dance music legends GusGus will be performing, as well as For A Minor Reflection, ex-Amiina Kippi Kaninus, electropop band Sykur, the melodic punk rock of Vicky and Mógil will be bringing some jazz and classical to the festival. Organisers also point out “from our little island in the north we bring you the unique singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ólöf Arnalds, whose voice has been described as ethereal, and otherworldly and we couldn’t agree more. And since we’re talking Icelandic artists, why not keep it in the family? Ólöf’s cousin Ólafur Arnalds is also a multi-instrumentalist and a composer of bewitching soundscapes.”
As someone who has been following and covering Iceland Airwaves for the past six years, I can honestly say I’ve never been this excited about the impending event. This might very well prove to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime music events that evokes the magic and energy of the experience every time you look back on it.
Better get your tickets or package deals now, before they sell out—if they haven’t already.