From Iceland — The Best Party You Weren’t At!

The Best Party You Weren’t At!

Published October 7, 2011

The Best Party You Weren’t At!

Airwaves veterans share their best memories


Once a festival gets to its 13th year, you better believe it’s made a lasting impression on people. And a festival like Airwaves in a city like Reykjavík? Well, that really spells out a recipe for one kind of memory: the parties. Oh my goshes all the parties. Within the big picture party of the festival are all the sub-parties – pre-partying at off-venues, full on crowd experience partying, all-of-a-sudden parties that happen when you are walking down Laugavegur, eating breakfast at Prikið when you haven’t gone to sleep from the afterparty parties… you get the idea! In that spirit, we decided to ask some people in town who have been Airwavesing for years – some of them since year one, 1999! – to find out what their favourite memory that they can barely remember.

Þorsteinn Stephensen, Iceland Airwaves founder, CEO, TITAN

“I’m happy to say that there are many great parties to be remembered from the first eleven years of Iceland Airwaves. The first three years, most of them seemed to take place in the club Thomsen, which for a long time was the home of Reykjavík’s underground. For some reason these parties seem to get mixed one with another but believe me they were all great.

In 2001, we did a great party on board of one the whale-watching boats. GusGus performed, the Aftur sisters decorated the boat, the booze was free… The guys who operated the boat charged us nothing, which was very convenient as we had nothing, The Rapture were there, Sparta and many other cool people. 2001 was in a way the year the festival born in its current form, and this was just a fantastic year freezing cold, sunny and amazing in every way. Happy days. Since then there have been many great parties, but that one was special.”

Lóa Hjalmtýsdóttir, FM Belfast singer

“I remember that Airwaves 2005 was great. My favourite show that year was CottonPlúseinn at Nasa. Most party moments I remember from 2005 were the usual mayhem parties at Sirkús. I also very much enjoyed the parties that were held at the studio we shared with lots of lovely bands at Smiðjustígur during Airwaves 2008. Last year I have to choose a party we had in the basement of Havarí after a Prins Póló show and the loud street party outside of Bakkus on Sunday night after our show with Dan Deacon.”

Óli Dóri, Weapons bass player, DJ

“The best Airwaves party I have attended was in 2007. Icelandair had this huge party at Kjarvalsstaðir for the media. When you arrived you were greeted by airline stewardess with trays full of alcohol and fancy food.  Very 2007-ish!”

Bart Cameron, former Grapevine editor, musician (The Foghorns)

“In all my time writing about, performing at, and editing magazines dedicated to Iceland Airwaves, I attended one party during the actual festival. As an editor, I gave my invites to journalists as perks, or I was working. The one party I attended was a Vice Magazine party. It was singularly void of intellect, art, and humanity, and I considered spontaneously dying in protest. For me, the concerts and working with writers were my big interests.”

Ólafur Arnalds, musician

“The Whitest Boy Alive, 2006 I think. It was on a Thursday, so venues only had a license to 1am. By 1:20am the cops were there but they kept playing. By 1:40, they took the electricity off the PA but they just turned their amps up even louder instead and kept playing. In the end it seemed the police and club managers decided not to attempt to do anything as it would probably just have caused a riot. The band ended up playing for almost 3 hours with a non-stop dance-party the whole time.”

Eldar Ástþórsson, former Iceland Airwaves manager, currently with CCP


“Oh that’s a hard one. Impossible, really. There have been so many memorable moments, parties and shows at the festival throughout the years. FM Belfast playing the now-burnt down Astró club in 2006 is something I won’t forget, maybe not the best of shows but there was a certain vibe in the air and it set the tone for a fantastic festival that year. The GusGus instrumental show in 2003 was epic, at the club Spotlight, where the 101 Hotel swimming pool is now. Looking back on some of the best international shows, The Rapture in 2002, The Kills in 2003, Ratatat in 2004 after and !!! in 2008 all have legendary status in my mind. True party atmosphere, festival highlights for sure. The list can go on and on…”


By Rebecca Louder

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