From Iceland — The Airwaves Engine That Quietly Toils For Thee...

The Airwaves Engine That Quietly Toils For Thee…

Published October 11, 2011

The Airwaves Engine That Quietly Toils For Thee…

Behind every great festival, there are those who beaver away unnoticed to make sure your Airwaves experience is unforgettable.

Behind every great festival, there are those who beaver away unnoticed to make sure your Airwaves experience is unforgettable.

We all know that Iceland Airwaves is a really cool festival with dozens of acts, playing in numerous venues over five nights. Honestly, if you can’t enjoy yourself during this event, then there is something seriously wrong with you.

But amongst all the music, partying and fun times, spare a moment to consider the legions of people who will be working all hours of the day and night through Airwaves, making sure that everything runs smoothly and disaster-free. They comprise the real engine that makes things happen, often mostly unnoticed by festivalgoers.

We went out to speak to some of the people who will be working during the festival, to find out what they do, whether they will get to see any acts, and if their advice to festivalgoers.

The PR Person

Hi my name is Kamilla Ingibergsdóttir and I’m in charge of PR and marketing for Iceland Airwaves. It’s the first year that I’ve been in charge, but I’ve worked on the festival for several years now.  So far we’ve done an absolute ton of work in the run up to the start. We’re a small team running a large festival so we’re under a fair amount of pressure.  It’s fun, but I seriously can’t understand how I can get so many e-mails in a day!

In the first couple of days of the festival, I’ll be heading up the media centre, meeting and greeting all the media and industry people who will be coming over. I’ll also be spending a lot of time with the journalists, going with the on press trips and meeting them at shows. All this will carry on well into the night.

I am trying to organise myself so I will be able to get some time to see some shows. I’m really looking forward to seeing Active Child. Also Young Magic and Matthew Hemerlein, as well as all the local acts.

I would say to festivalgoers to plan well but don’t get too stuck on it, go to some of the off-venue places, and wear good shoes.

The Bartender

Hi my name is Ari Schröder and I’m a bartender and owner of Café Amsterdam. Through Airwaves I’ll be tending to the bar and ensuring that everything here goes according to plan. Right now we’re making sure that we have enough staff to prepare for long days.  During Airwaves we’ll be opening up the bar at noon for soundchecks, then we’ll be working all the way until the bar shuts which will be at 4:30 am during the weekend.

I’d say that we get more people during Airwaves. Lots of foreign tourists and locals that are not our usual regulars. Last year, the place was packed most nights from opening to closing.  You’re kept very busy, but the time passes very fast. You barely notice it.

I am interested in seeing a few of the foreign bands playing this year, but the Sunday night here is going to be very special. Q4U are playing and that’s something I would like to see. They were big when I was fifteen years old.

For first time festivalgoers, I would say you have to plan your weekend well. Most gigs during Airwaves will run on schedule. Also if you’re seeing a big act, be prepared to get to the venue early. The queues for Robyn last year were huge and you knew none of them were going to get in.

The Sound And Lights Engineer

Hi my name is Eiríkur Rosberg. I’m the manager of [Airwaves venue] Gaukur á stöng, but I also work for Extón, a sound and light engineering company that provides equipment for various venues. This year for Airwaves, we’re supplying equipment for Harpa, Faktorý, Iðnó and Tjarnabíó. My main role is checking the packing lists for what each venue needs, then making sure that the equipment gets delivered to the venues and that they’re set up. This will be my second Airwaves working for Exton, but my fourth in total work as a bar tender.

Right now we’re making sure that all our equipment from the amplifiers and speakers, to cables and drum kits are all working correctly. Nothing is worse than a gig failing because an amp or speaker has blown.

The main advantage to working during Airwaves is that you get to meet a lot of really interesting people. And not only do you get paid for doing your job you get to see loads of great bands. Of course the hours are tiring, and there are hardly any breaks. The longest you get is probably good enough for a cigarette.

There are a few artists that I would love to see, but I’m going to be working so much, both at Exton and Gaukurinn, I probably won’t get much of a chance.  But in the past, I’d say that Lights On The Highway and GusGus have been the best acts I’ve seen perform.

The best advice I would give to festivalgoers is to be organised.  The venue managers will be tough on starting times, so there will be very few delays.

The Doorman

Hi my name is Kári Kjartansson, and I supervise the bouncers at Gaukurinn, Glaumbar and Prikið during Iceland Airwaves. I have been doing this job for two years.

Right now my preparation for the festival will really start on the October 3, where we will be going over the schedules and meeting with the venue managers.

Actually this will be the first time I will be working and experiencing Iceland Airwaves. In the past I ran another company, which meant that I never had the time to go. But it will be different from our usual nights. The security will be more like that of a rock concert instead of a club night, and we will be dealing with a lot more people coming and going from the venues, as well as more non-Icelanders and tourists.  But we’re not expecting any major problems or trouble compared to a normal Saturday night.

I haven’t had a chance yet to see the line up so I’m not sure who’s playing or who I want to see, but I have doormen who work for me who actually want to work on Airwaves nights so they can see the acts playing.

What advice I would give to festivalgoers? Be polite, and have a lot of fun.

The Off-Venue Organiser

Hi, my name is Gylfi Blöndal. By day I work for, the free music streaming service and online music store, but during Airwaves I’ll be curating the off-venue programme at Bar 11, which conveniently is the bar located in the same building as gogoyoko’s offices.

In terms of preparation, we’re planning the usual sound, light, backline and the general logistics of hosting 25 bands over four days with the proprietor at Bar 11. We started planning over two months ago so things are running quite smoothly so far.

During Airwaves I’ll be getting up quite early to meet people and preparing for the shows of the day. I also have some responsibility musically as I’m playing with Mr. Silla and Borko, so my days will be spent mostly juggling my tasks, resulting in lack of sleep and weight loss.

I would say that the off schedule venues are more laid back, fluid and, dare I say, fun! Bands tend to prepare so much for their official festival shows that when they get to Bar 11, they just wing it and surprise the crowd with a unique performance.

The good thing about working during Airwaves is that you meet all the people who come here to enjoy the music. The disadvantage is that with such a busy schedule I don’t get to see half of the shows on my wish-list, which includes Suuns, Liturgy, Beach House, Zun Zun Egui, John Grant, Dungen, Glasser, The Twilight Sad and 22-Pistepirkko.

My Advice to festivalgoers? Drink plenty of water.


By Bob Cluness

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Festival Central
A Fishing Warehouse Comes Alive

A Fishing Warehouse Comes Alive


Show Me More!