From Iceland — Airwaves: Meet The Venues

Airwaves: Meet The Venues

Published November 4, 2019

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The venues of Iceland Airwaves shift like the seasons. Places appear, disappear, and subsequently reappear years later only to disappear again. This year’s iteration is no different, with some venues lost (RIP Harpa), some venues gained (the sports arena…yeah…), and a few strong newcomers making the list (hey, Miami). So here you go, this year’s 12 official, on-venue venues (i.e. the ones you will need wristbands for):

Laugavegur 30
First floor: Whiskey bar. Second floor: Reykjavík’s most intimate rock venue. Grab a finger and get ready to get loud. Warning: For popular bands, this place can get pretty crowded. For earlier gigs, it’s rather cosy.
Capacity: TBA
Accessibility: Limited. Stairs to main entrance.

Fríkirkjuvegur 5
This beautiful, traditional wooden church has some of the best acoustics in the city. It’s particularly lovely for a classical show. There’s no bar though. Thanks, Jesus.
Capacity: 500
Accessibility: Limited. Steps to main and side entrances.

Gamla Bíó
Ingólfsstræti 2a
This cinema-cum-theatre-cum-Airwaves-venue plays host to some of the fanciest rock and rap shows you’ll ever see. Under the high, ornate ceilings is a large standing area for rowdy folk, with comfy balcony seating for you old people.
Capacity: 800
Accessibility: Good. Balcony on 2nd floor with elevator.

Tryggvagata 22
The unofficial capital of Reykjavík’s queer and alt-scene, Gaukurinn is a grungy, dark venue with sticky floors and a legendary smoking area. There are also gender neutral bathrooms, free tampons, and—during the day—a fantastic vegan café.
Capacity: 350
Accessibility: Limited. Stairs to 2nd floor.

Hard Rock Café
Lækjargata 2A
Don’t judge. While the upstairs might be filled with greasy sliders and a framed case containing Lemmy’s favourite toothpick, the basement is actually a fantastic venue with a big stage and great light show.
Capacity: 350
Accessibility: Good. Lift to basement venue.

Hressingarskálinn (Hressó)
Austurstræti 20
This old school normcore institution recently underwent a massive renovation and re-branding. This’ll be their first Airwaves as a hip young spot and we’re anxious to see how it goes. Don’t miss their massive smoking area—it’s fucking heated.
Capacity: 200
Accessibility: Good.

Vonarstræti 3
In the last few years, IÐNÓ has been reborn as ground zero for Reykjavík’s arts community. It’s got great acoustics, a substantial stage, fashionable people, and ample room to dance. The bar can get rather crowded, though.
Capacity: 350
Accessibility: Good.

KEX Hostel
Skúlagata 28
KEX Hostel has always had a prolific “off-venue” program, but this year, they’re official. Come for an excellent beer-selection and intimate concert area. For popular acts, expect it to be standing room only.
Capacity: 300
Accessibility: Limited.

Bankastræti 2
Technically a banquet hall, Kornhlaðan is a new addition to this year’s venue roster. The old-school wooden attic doesn’t usually host concerts, but it’s a charming locale, reminiscent of the Reykjavík of old.
Capacity: Not available
Accessibility: Good.

Miami Bar
Hverfisgata 33
Miami is another new addition to the venue list. If you’re looking to feel like an extra in ‘Scarface’—minus the cocaine—this would be the place to do it. They haven’t built their reputation on putting on shows, so this’ll be their chance to prove themselves.
Capacity: Not available
Accessibility: Good.

Reykjavík Art Museum
Tryggvagata 17
This beloved venue’s architecture walks the line between prison-block and aesthetic masterpiece. They’ve got fantastic acoustics, super fancy bathrooms, and a high-class aura that’ll make you feel like a true music connoisseur. Queue up early.
Capacity: 1000
Accessibility: Good. Balcony on 2nd floor with elevator.

Ah, the sports arena. It’s back. Not the most charming locale, but certainly the biggest. The venue will only be open on Saturday, and probably ridiculously crowded for the Of Monsters And Men show. Arrive early and wear comfortable shoes.
Capacity: 3250
Accessibility: Good.

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