For years, the staff of the Iceland Airwaves festival has worked tirelessly to promote the festival abroad as an exciting option for a weekend get-away destination for young people on both sides of the Atlantic. As a part of this effort, Iceland Airwaves warm-up shows have been hosted regularly in both London and Copenhagen. This was my first opportunity to attend one of these festival promotion showcases and judging by the fanfare surrounding this event, I have probably been missing out.
The venue was sold out days in advance. It was not the largest of venues, truthfully, but a nice one, with the event taking place in reception loft in an old refurbished warehouse that jointly houses the Icelandic, the Greenlandic and the Faroese embassies on Nordatlantens Brygge. Inside, one can buy Icelandic beer and Maltöl, a rare taste of home, and admire the hide of an unlucky polar bear who met his maker before going on to bigger things on a wall in Copenhagen.
The evening starts off with a very low-key performance by Danish duo Murder, who, despite their rather ominous sounding name, play stripped down folk tunes and at times evoke memories of my mother and her tireless appreciation for Simon and Garfunkel. Based around classical guitar plucking of Anders Mathiasen and interwoven by the restful voice of Jacob Bellens, their minimalistic melodies inspire a good part of their audience to simply take a seat on the floor and take in the peaceful atmosphere. But despite knowing that this will please a large part of the audience, as it probably does on most nights, I am mostly bored.
The Icelandic indie-rock outfit Dikta follow Murder on stage. Having established themselves quite admirably within Iceland, it may be their time to try their luck abroad behind the success of their third album, Get it Together, which was an altogether different beast from their earlier albums. The power-chord driven indie-rock blasts have somewhat given way to a more eloquent and keyed down melodies which fit singer Haukur’s vocal range a lot better, particularly in a live setting. They delivered a very solid 10-song set in front of an ecstatic crowd before returning for an encore or two. Their biggest slip-up of the night was the band members’ woeful attempt at speaking Danish, an art best left to the locals.
Behind Dikta’s performance, a DJ set has been scheduled, joining one of Iceland’s more established names, DJ Margeir, with Denmark’s prodigal son, Kasper Björke. But the crowd wears thin quickly, as most attendees seem to have another place to be. An hour later the party is called off.
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