Although Kiasmos and Kött Grá Pje were great, Bo Ningen were the ones who blew my mind, with their eccentric and wacky stage presence, coupled with long and passionate shredding segments. The show was absolutely out of this world—I’ve never before seen the crowd smile quite this much while violently moshing about.
I’m tempted to say Felicita was the worst, but I think it was honestly a case of it not being my kind of music. But QT? Her music was very danceable, but her stage presence was about as entertaining as watching clothes dry (that’s like watching paint dry, but somehow less interesting).
The saddest thing I saw, however, was while waiting in the queue to see Sophie. The bouncer was letting in a group of people, checking everyone’s wrist, when she suddenly took a double take when she saw one bloke with 20,000 ISK in bills strapped to his wrist, cooly trying to bribe his way in. She shook her head like a disappointed parent before sending him away. She told me a lot of people had tried that trick, but that it never worked. “The biggest wad I saw was 40,000, and I wish I could’ve taken it, but I couldn’t,” she told me.
Another day of Airwaves, yet another artist breathing life into my cold, dead heart. SOPHIE, the room collectively swooned for you last night. I never wanted to like electronic music. I never wanted to be ‘that girl’. But when you meet the right person, and that person is repeatedly slamming the most bewitching bass you’ve ever heard into Hello Kitty’esque vocals, you just have to open your heart. Future Brown also put on a solid show, but I had way too much room to dance to it. Where were you people? At least the art museum was less sweaty, though everyone kept accidentally stepping on beer cans when they were trying to dance.
On the other end of the nightly spectrum, Felicita zoomed straight over my head. Instead of dancing, Felicita did this strange, pretend-to-be-on-the-phone-while-dawdling-around-stage thing, all the while playing music I didn’t really like. Later in the show Felicita pretended to use the microphone but obviously wasn’t using it, which I felt was pretty dishonest.
I have a life motto: When in doubt, be negative. So when the hype for Milkywhale started infecting the office, I was leaning towards negativity. I was so doubtful, that I was firmly sitting down when Milkywhale started playing at our secret fancy Airwaves party yesterday. It took me half a song to start bouncing: the hype is real! For the remainder of the day a question sat with me, what the hell is a Milkywhale? There was a pun or something in there that I couldn’t figure out. I hate being outsmarted. The whole situation irks me.
I grew up listening to Gusgus, so I went to their show at Harpa with all the wrong expectations. I wish band names came with version numbers. Let’s say my favourite version of Gusgus was version eight, and I stopped listening during version twelve. If you then, as I did, come to a show a few years later, you realize that you have some catching up to do when your watching Gusgus version 34. I met my cousin at B-Ruff at Húrra. He had solved the Milkywhale puzzle. The singer’s name is Melkorka, melk – orka. Melk is dutch for milk and orka could be an alternative spelling of orca. The day was perfected.
I danced my ass off last night. Well, no, I still very much have a big supple butt attached to me, but I busted serious moves to some pretty amazing music last night. I started with QT at NASA, going from “Oh my yes she is really cute”, to “wtf is going on seriously”, to “fuck everything I am dancing!” Then I ran over to Húrra to see Kero Kero Bonito where there was nothing confusing and everything was fun and adorable. The singer’s infectious voice and antics captured my heart and the beats were just pure pop perfection. After that I ran back to NASA to dance to SOPHIE, which really made me feel like I was at a rave in the year 2000.
Finally it was back to Húrra for Kane West and more ravey madness, to the point that Alexandra from Börn dragged Dr. Gunni onto the dancefloor to party with the youths. I should have gone to bed a lot earlier, and I should have drank way more water, but it was so worth it for all that dancing.
Have I mentioned how much fun it is to bump into someone that you think is a total stranger, but knows who you are? Even more delightful is when they bring up a bad review of a band they used to be in, years ago, and remember exactly what you said about them. Boy there’s nothing better than the awkward silence that follows, as you weigh your options between apologising (“In fairness, I was actually pretty drunk and ate some pizza that disagree with me”), doubling down (“You thought THAT was bad? Dude, I was holding back for the sake of common decency!”) or shrugging and saying something about how it’s good to see they’ve moved on the greener pastures. I went with Option 3. Good times were had by all.
Tonight’s highlight has to be sóley. Her amazing music (I got close to shedding a tear during I’ll Drown) combined with her funny stage presence was just too good. However, Kero Kero Bonito (video game Japanese rap<3) and Nao also deserve honourable mentions—both were really good.
The other shows I saw, Beebee and the Bluebirds and QT, were also good (shootout to QT’s transitions and playing KoRn’s remix of Bitch Better Have My Money), but not AS good. I ended my night with AmabAdamA, and it was pretty chilled and groovy and dance-y.
Iceland Airwaves is great. Educational, even. I learned how to clap while holding something: you basically rapidly high-five your neighbour!
Alexander de Ridder
Yesterday started out with a kickass ‘secret’ Grapevine Airwaves party at a mysterious location. With both locals and tourists out in force, we were treated to one of the liveliest sets of the entire festival courtesy of Milkywhale (#hvalmjólkurmennirnir).
While Milkywhale was waving her arms around like a squirrel / cardboard robot hybrid on E, Misþyrming were stood in the car park of Hitt Húsið covering themselves in lamb’s blood. They didn’t seem very happy about it, but I guess that’s besides the point when you’re part of a genre that is all about expressing the dreadful pain and beauty of existence through the shouty noises and the angry guitars.
A massive departure from Milkywhale’s set in terms of aesthetic, sound, and everything else you could think of, they did manage to actually pull off a really cool show in the end that didn’t feel at all disconnected. I’m not a huge metal fan and don’t know anything about black metal, but they totally rocked. The whole event was a testament to what makes Airwaves special: awesome music, awesome atmosphere, awesome people.
After managing to catch the last ten minutes of a rather loud and messy set by Porches at Harpa, it was time for Kiasmos. Kiasmos are one of those bands I’ve listened to a lot—their blend of ambient and minimalist music is good to both work and party to—but had somehow managed to miss every show they played this summer. They didn’t disappoint, offering up one of the most intense and surreal light shows of the festival.
A quick cigarette break, then it was off to Reykjavík Art Museum for Young Karin. I had never heard them before, but it’s clear they’re a hit with the cool kids these days—the crowd was a sea of Cheap Monday parkas and gurning hipsters. However, while they’d been hyped up a lot to me, I didn’t really feel there was anything that special about them. I like the sick beatz as much as the next cool loser, but after Kiasmos, Young Karin failed to impress.
MILKYWHALE! MILKYWHALE! MILKYWHALE! MILKYWHALE! In case you haven’t noticed, we at Grapevine LOVE MILKYWHALE. Since we have written so much about them already, I’ll use this space to muse upon the nature of fandom. You know how American tweens love Bieber? And how arty hipsters love Björk? And how millennials feel about Harry Potter? That’s the size of the devotion Milkywhale have inspired in people. It’s like that first crush you had when you were eight. It’s intense! And joyful! And you have to give in to it. Y’know?
After Milkywhale played at the Grapevine office, the newly formed Milkywhale Fandom (we’re thinking “Milkmaids” maybe, or maybe “Hvalmjólkurmennirnir”?) of me and fellow Grapeviners Grayson and Eli (all pictured above, somewhere) were feeling a strange combination of overexcitement and gloom. So, we spontaneously threw our coats on, ran out of the door, and jumped in a cab across town to Hlemmur Square (also enthusing the driver, who to get us there, receiving our excitement by osmosis) to catch them one more time (that’s twice in an hour, linear time fans). We barged in there (sorry if we spilled your drink), and started bouncing and cackling with big grins on our faces. I knew even as it was happening that it was the moment of my Airwaves.
And, well, it’s not just us three. People on Twitter totally unconnected to us are making GIFs of them. This fandom is real. And we’re having a Milkywhale of a time. Get involved. It’s fun. Okay bye. Thanks for reading. Love you. Bye. Okay. Bye then. xxxxx
I felt a certain horror and awe as I headed home early along Laugavegur at 2 am. (In what universe does 2 am count as early?) I walked east against the westward flow of zombies. The scene was a veritable hellscape: sirens blaring, bottles breaking here and there, people crouched in corners throwing up. I mean, it’s not anything new, but it’s shocking when the night’s nigh freezing, pitch black, and damp as a soggy waffle.
Presumably, the Saturday night of a five-day festival should mark some dramatic climax, a crowning pinnacle of fun and good vibes and all that stuff. The prospect of work or school on Monday morning is a decent enough excuse to duck out early on a Sunday night; and taking it easy Friday night is alright if you’re planning to save yourself for Saturday. I must have done something wrong, though, because I peaked Friday night and it’s been steeply downhill since then. I knew Iceland Airwaves was a long-distance race, but I didn’t realize it was simultaneously a sprint.
Maybe I’m just a grandpa.
by Birta Rán
For me, today was dominated by some good luck and the British. I had no plans to see Låpsley, Nao, or SOPHIE but I ended up at each in common Airwaves fashion: by happenstance. For a 19-year-old English girl, I cannot fathom from where Låpsley gets all that soul but I’m sure glad she found it somewhere. Her voice is so incredibly rich that it made even the fact that she was basically wearing a nightgown seem sexy. Nao was described as “wonky funk” and although I honestly had no idea what that meant, I went into it without hesitation. Oh boy was that funk wonky. And as for SOPHIE, I generally had no idea what was going on, but I generally also loved the shit out of it.
That’s about as Airwaves as it gets.
Grayson del Faro
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