Tim Pogo is has been kicking around Airwaves pretty much since its inception. This will be his 20th Airwaves, the first being in 2000, and he’s been covering the festival for various American media outlets and radio stations ever since. Here are his top picks for Airwaves 2019.
While the very idea behind Airwaves is to showcase new and up-and-coming talent from Iceland and around the globe, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that old favourite Seabear is who I’m most excited to see. Even as the styles and sounds of the ever-broadening musical landscape of Iceland have changed over the years, I’m a bit old school so in my mind, this band has always embodied a quintessential Icelandic sound. Bright, catchy and melodic indie pop, I can’t get enough.
Having gone their separate ways eight years ago, the band is back together and say their Airwaves set will include mostly old favourites from their two previous releases, as well as a few new tracks from the album that they are currently recording…which in itself is something that makes me elated.
There’s a pattern I seem to notice each year at Airwaves, and that’s the inclusion of an international band/artist that I’d gotten into at some point during the year and am excited to see in the intimate Airwaves setting. This year, that artist is Orville Peck. Part cowboy, part Johnny Cash, part Roy Orbison, the Canadian artist made his debut just this year and has already attracted a whirlwind of attention thanks to his anonymity, mysterious alter ego, soaring melodies, and hypnotising ballads. From behind a mask—which is like a glamourous Lone Ranger—his baritone pipes croon over a hollow-bodied guitar sound that’s synonymous with classic country music.
Perhaps my favourite part of Airwaves is discovering something new, which typically comes in one of two forms: the first is being tipped off to a new artist or collaboration which has come to fruition since the previous Airwaves festival. The other is coming across an act that played the previous year, but that I had missed for one reason or another—I mean let’s face it, nobody can get around to seeing everything! This is a case of the latter, a duo was not on my radar screen in 2017, and in 2018 I happened to walk into Gamla Bíó during their last song and was left wanting more. This time, I will make no mistake and will catch Between Mountains’ entire set.
One of my favourite releases out of Iceland so far this year has been ‘Unison Love’ from Warmland. I did mentioned that I’m old school, right? Or, maybe more accurately, I’m one of the Airwaves regulars who is decidedly old. But I’ve been a fan of Arnar Guðjónsson and Hrafn Thoroddsen, since they were in Leaves and Emsími, respectively. As a team, they’ve compiled a solid set of synth pop gems and I can’t wait to hear them played live.
Iceland Airwaves is from November 6th to 9th. Tickets are 19,900 ISK for the festival and 12,900 ISK daily.
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