From Iceland — I Know Nothing: The Casual Listener’s Guide To Random Airwaves Acts

I Know Nothing: The Casual Listener’s Guide To Random Airwaves Acts

Published October 23, 2015

Unlike some of my colleagues at the Grapevine, I’m not a music aficionado. I’m the Jon Snow of music. I’m not engaged with the Icelandic scene, and if someone tells me about this new post-industrial surfer sludge band they’ve heard, my mind goes blank. The recent announcement of the Airwaves schedule, which had tons of people whooping and cheering and generally excited, left me kind of going “eh, I know nothing of these bands. What am I excited for?”

Since many of the tickets for this year’s Airwaves were sold abroad, however, I’m hopefully not the only one North of the Wall who knows basically none of the line up! It is for you, fellow know-naught, that I write this: a most random selection of Airwaves music that I gave a listen and wrote down some thoughts on. I looked at the schedule, picking names that sounded interesting, and gave those bands a listen on Youtube/Soundcloud/Bandcamp. This list is neither exhaustive for Iceland Airwaves 2015 (which will be amazing, going by office gossip) nor a reflection of the Icelandic music scene. Maybe. Who knows. Let’s get started.

Wednesday, November 4


Tjarnarbíó, 19:15

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A “raw, proggy” rock band. I kinda know what those words mean. Caterpillarmen seems like a good band to put early in the evening—people are still paying attention to the quality of the music, which is good, but at the same time it’s not like “IN YOUR FACE” music. It either had to be early in the evening or late at night, when people are no longer sober and able to properly discuss what cult classic the Caterpillarmen sound best syncs up with.

Thursday November 5


Harpa Silverberg, 20:00

I initially thought this said Björk. First I was like “yeah,” then I went “oh,” and then I listened to Borko’s music and I went “yeah!” again. It’s a weird blend of synthesizer-based music and easy listening, with some 8-bit sounds thrown into the mix—which makes for an amazing listen. Borko’s music would not be out of place on an indie game sound track, and I mean that as the highest praise.


Harpa Kaldalón, 20:30

If Alien got a 2015 reboot which recaptured the alienated, lonely feel, this would be the soundtrack. Arnljótur’s music has a very sci-fi feel to it, which sits well with me, though the songs I listened to kind of lacked a bang, something to really get me hooked.

Snooze Infinity

Húrra 19:10

This is some of the chillest music ever. It’s not boring, which a lot of chill-type music tends to be, it’s just so… laid back. Snooze Infinity describes itself as creating “ambient atmospheres and glitchy soundscapes combined with groovy and bass-heavy beats”, and it delivers entirely on that promise. Good music to start a night of partying.

Friday November 6

Ho99o9 (US, I don’t discriminate)

NASA, 01:20

Loud. Creepy. Industrial hip hop meets metal, is that a thing? I really like this—it’s something fresh, something generally not heard outside of low-budget horror films (or ‘Saw’ flicks). The build-up in Ho99o9 (it’s pronounced Horror, supposedly) is excellent. I can’t wait to see them.

Weval (NL, this one is not so random #DutchPride)

Gamla Bíó, 1:30

I betrayed the random nature of my listicle, dear reader. I couldn’t resist checking out the only (!) Dutch act hitting Airwaves. Weval has this nice electronic sound that mixes laid-back interludes with more up-beat sections. It’s not entirely my thing, but I recognise it as being good in its own right. They do electronic music, they do it well.

Saturday November 7


Harpa Silfurberg 01:10

I was expecting GusGus to have a really chill vibe, based on Disney’s Cinderella (Gusgus is the fat mouse, if you’ll recall). I was so, so wrong. GusGus has techno sound that gets the blood flowing. I’m not sure if Harpa’s Silfurberg accommodates dancing (I know nothing, remember? I wasn’t kidding), but I hope they do.

Young Karin

Reykjavik Art Museum 21:50

I hesitate to call this pop, but I can’t think what else to call it. The lyrics are nice, the music is good: steady, beat-dropping, dance music. Nothing too crazy, but don’t take that negatively: it’s a good start to the evening.

Beebee and the Bluebirds

Iðnó, 20:00

I love this band. The lead’s vocals are so, so good. Her voice kind of makes me melt. I’m admittedly a sucker for smooth jazzy songs with good, lower-end-of-the-scale female vocals, but shit. This is amazing. Go see this! Do it! (Shit, you’ll need a break to catch your breath by this point at Airwaves. Recharge to this, seriously)

Saturday, November 8

Herra Hnetusmjör

Húrra, 23:30

Sir Peanut Butter does Icelandic rap. Not my genre, but from what I can tell this is good. From what my basic Icelandic knowledge tells me, the lyrics are good, the delivery is on point, and he seems like a solid way to end Airwaves. Icelandic rap seems very popular, the rap line-up at Airwaves is strong, and Herra Hnetusmjör definitely contributes to that.

“Night gathers and my watch begins…”

There you have it. Ten uninformed picks of pretty good to amazing fucking music. We both know more now than we did before we started this, dear reader. Hopefully you can now make a slightly more informed decision about where to get drunk and dance your heart out, deep into the night. Airwaves is going to great, and the timing in November is good, for the night is long and full of terrors.

For the watch.

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