From Iceland — Countdown to Airwaves: 4 Weeks

Countdown to Airwaves: 4 Weeks

Published September 21, 2007

Countdown to Airwaves: 4 Weeks

The Iceland Airwaves web site, at www.icelandairwaves. com, is a great resource in this respect, as it lists all of the performers, links to their MySpaces and even doles out free mp3s of most of them. Ticket holders and music enthusiasts – now is your cue to plop yourselves down in front of a computer, note-pad and alcoholic beverage in hand. Have a ball making your schedule, and enjoy the anticipation build-up, when you discover yet another great track from some oddly named fucks you’ve never heard of. And if you discover something you loathe on the bill, you can use your advantage to stock up on rotten eggs and snappy comments for heckling. Be creative: personalise! Those shiny promo pics and blatantly boastful bios are more useful than you think. But do not throw anything at the Airwaves-newcomers listed below, for they are all awesome. See:

These kids from Seltjarnarnes have been getting it on for a while now, and they’ve been getting considerably better with every passing month. Reminiscent of old Icelandic punk circa “Rokk í Reykjavík” (the hugely influential 1982 documentary, now mostly known for featuring a very young Björk freaking out), mixed with Emiliana Torrini’s pronunciation and some very early-21st Gang of Four-isms. Also: rowdy fun concert stuff.

FM Belfast
FM Belfast’s show at last year’s Iceland Airwaves was truly the stuff of legends, as those in attendance will attest to. They raised hell at Pravda, so much in fact that the place literally burned down (give or take a few months) and frankly isn’t there anymore. They have long been staples of the 101 Reykjavík music scene, but unlike many of their contenders actually have the tunes and showmanship to back up their infamy. Expect a great homecoming show at Airwaves, since 2/3rds of the band is currently residing in New York, attending art school. What else.

Hraun will surprise you at Airwaves. Even though they only released their début this spring, Hraun is indeed one of Iceland’s veteran bands. Since Hraun’s inception, they have played an untold number of shows (that usually drag to an untold amount of hours in length) around the country, usually leaving behind a trail of satisfied, tired and drunk folks. Describing their performances as “party concerts” – they have mastered the art of sneaking up on you from behind, usually starting with low-key versions of their folksy original material and climaxing a couple of hours later in a frenzy of joyous Falco covers.

Grizzly Bear
Don’t believe the hype! Take a listen for yourself and take in the wisdom that Grizzly Bear are truly one of the most pleasurable things to happen in to the whole of left-field music in a long time. And if the left field doesn’t appeal to you, you should still check ‘em out, as they have tunes by the bucket load and aren’t afraid to use them either. As much as their recorded output has been raved about for the past months, their live shows are receiving even uppier thumbs from those who’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. As far as I’m concerned, Grizzly Bear are this year’s “Airwaves must”, and I’ll wait in line for a long time to see them.

The first thing you will learn about Smoosh is that the band is comprised of a pair of sisters in their early teens (13 and 15 years old, respectively) who have been writing and recording songs under the guidance of Death Cab for Cutie drummer Jason McGerr for the last seven years. This is truly interesting, but there’s so much more to it than that. Like a younger Jakobínarína, minus the abundance of arrogance and Y-chromosomes, Smoosh play perfect pop tunes filtered through some rocking influences and the joyous innocence that accompanies their young age. Currently touring the US with Bloc Party, Smoosh will whip Airwaves crowds into a frenzy come October. Just you see.

Ra Ra Riot
This unfortunate band gained their biggest surge of publicity for all the wrong reasons. Ra Ra Riot’s music is of the infectious variety, tuneful popage rammed through a blender of American indie-influences, so they were already making waves (and booked to play Airwaves) when tragedy struck the band last June. Songwriter, founding member and excellent drummer John Pike drowned while apparently on the way home after an aftershow party. After some speculation, the band announced they would keep going, not the least to honour Pike’s vision and memory. A truly sad story, but what’s important is that Ra Ra Riot is an amazing live band (as I witnessed at SXSW), and their music is genuinely good.

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