OH BOY. Day two of Iceland Airwaves 2022 is already under our belts. Check out what our journalists had to say about the artists who played last night, and fill your brain up with hot juicy tips for who to catch tonight!
Of course, make sure to check out our GRAPEWAVES podcast in collaboration with Iceland Airwaves, hosted by the Grapevine’s best friend Tim Pogo. Listen to the new podcast every day by following us on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
A Night of Omnium Gatherum
After tumbling out of a networking event, I quickly ran over to the Art Museum to catch Bríet, who entered the stage looking like the cuddly sister of Cruella de Vil in a massive (hopefully) fake fur black and white coat and gigantic hat, proving us once more she really is the Icelandic Queen of Extravaganza (okay or maybe the artistic daughter of Björk when it comes to making bold fashion statements). She does it in her own way! And that has made sure she secured her place firmly in the Icelandic music scene, as when Bríet asks in Icelandic if there were any Icelanders in the room, it was met with frantic shouting and more than half of the packed turbine hall raised their hands. All the favourites passed by and those previously mentioned Icelanders in the crowd could sing all the lines to the song “Rólegur Kúreki” without hesitation, as we all heard it on the radio in our cars last summer on a daily basis. Bríet had her partner Rubin Pollock (also plays with Kaleo) next to her on stage but it was jazz hero Óskar Guðjónsson in some funky jazz pants on clarinet that caught my eye, calmly pacing next to her like only someone with years of experience can do. And let’s not forget Magnús Jóhann Ragnarsson on keys.. With this ensemble of allstars, Bríet shows she knows exactly how things are done.
Having come from bold fashion statements, we were certainly not let down by Kóboykex in Iðnó straight after. If you have been in Iceland for a while or at a previous Airwaves, you have undoubtedly bumped into Faroese multi talented Heidrik á Heygum. He has made many videos, huge wall drawings, deep, sad but beautiful music, performances, books…You name it, he’s done it. So when Heidrik started this new project with fellow Faroese Sigmund Zachariassen and the first images came out of them dressed up in light blue and pink cowboy outfits including white tassels, I first was laughing at this over the top statement but knew that Heidrik would pull this off somehow. Now I was standing in a packed Iðnó—to my surprise, as this is not a well known band—and listening to really great music!
They introduced themselves as “two whitetrash hillbillies from the Faroes,” and explained their song “Cake” was about us “all being equals and that we can definitely have our cake and eat it too,” which was welcomed with loud applause from the audience. The whole show brought a smile to my face. They invited their friend, fellow-Faroese Guðrið Hansdóttir (who played earlier in the evening) to the stage, to roll out some soprano notes, while Heidrik found his bass voice impressing everyone in that room. They ended their set stating, “this is basically the Texas of Europe right? Like, have you seen the cars here in Iceland?!” FACTS. “So then we are basically from Alabama!” Oh boy did them cowboys give us some hot desert Nordic country!
Next up was Eydís Evensen, pianist and composer from Blönduós who released her first album in 2021 named ‘Bylur,’ after a snow storm. This album represents moments from her life and that is what we got in Fríkirkjan last night. She was joined by a string quartet, yet again including Karl Pestka and Unnur Jónsdóttir part of it, so we already knew that this was going to be elegant and dreamy. Eydís isn’t one for many words on stage, so she directly sat down behind the grand piano and started playing. In between she quickly but quietly introduced herself and the quartet and thanked the audience before playing the rest of her set without interruption. After walking all over town for a few days between concerts, I couldn’t help but lay my head on the wooden balustrade upstairs and let the piano stories she gave us slowly melt everything else around me away. There is nothing extravagant to find here, in stark contrast with the first two shows I went to yesterday. This music needs nothing more than a quiet church, some cosy warm duvet and a cup of tea, while looking at the gluggaveður or bylur outside.
After Eydís had gently swept away my present being, it was time to shake up those bones and so I went to the Turkish wedding party that Altın Gün served up in the Art Museum. Coming from the Netherlands myself, I am not unfamiliar with this band (although they are Turkish, they are based in Amsterdam) and it was therefore at the top of my list to see them at Airwaves, as I knew it would be a party. There I bumped into none other than Iceland’s producer magician Magnús Ödur and Unnar Gísli himself (aka Juníus Meyvant who rocked this hall the night before) and joined them (yes, it’s true, we really do all know each other in Iceland) to the middle of the hall. Pushing through a busy sweaty crowd that had just danced to Metronomy, we found our spot in the middle where the Faroese producer and musician Sakaris joined us quickly after. And so I found myself surrounded by knowledgeable synth enthusiasts, and it was clear from the first notes of Altin Gün that they all approved of the smooth psychedelic sounds they served us with. Even though I was overheating in my vintage faux-fur coat, I could not help but dance and so did the rest around me. Singers Merve Dasdemir and Erdinc Yildiz Ecevit delighted us with their Anatolian sounds, transporting us to other destinations that probably have the same heat as was felt on the dance floor. They delivered everything everyone was hoping for!
Last but not least, I finished my night by rushing my way over to not miss the last half hour of the set of Janus Rasmussen in Iðnó. Some had seen him the night before in Gaukurinn but that clashed with another band I wanted to see, just as it did now but decisions had to be made. A packed Iðnó awaited me upon arrival and luckily the security guard was kind enough to let me in even though there was still a line outside. I squirmed my way into the crowd to the feverish beats Janus was serving them. Iðnó had turned into a nightclub, a very fancy looking one but with the same frantic dancing people in them, just wanting more and more. Janus was accompanied by Karl Pestka (this man seems to play violin for all of Iceland and I was massively impressed by him just calmly playing away at Eydís’s gig just minutes before and now yanking that violin over a distorter adding a whole extra layer to the music, like he wasn’t just in church). Behind them were vertical visual screens as the cherry on the rave temple cake. I had seen Janus many times before and so I wasn’t worried for a millisecond that I would be disappointed, as that is practically impossible when it comes to his music, may it be as a producer for many others, his duo with Ólafur Arnalds as Kiasmos, Boncyan with Tom Hannay and Sakaris, or his solo project. He did manage to surprise me last night though, as he finished his set singing, which I hadn’t heard him do before and it took me a second to decide what to do with it, until I realised I had been dancing for minutes without being aware, as his voice only added to the electronics. The endless applause from the audience confirmed that Janus is the go-to-person if you want to get a proper club rave. Ylona Supèr
All Hail The Faroese
Fellow writer Iryna and I hit the ground running on Friday—quite literally. We were busy in the office until the very last moment, and when we were finally finished we only had five minutes to make it to a reception at the British Ambassador’s house—a ten minute walk away. It was worth the jog though, because there we were treated to a little sneak peak of the night’s entertainment from Eliza Shaddad, a British singer-songwriter of Scottish and Sudanese descent. Eliza performed alone, supported by her unique electric guitar playing (no plectrum! That’s hot) and a vocal harmony pedal. Her songwriting leaned bleak and honest, but her incredible voice provided the balance needed to ground her whole act. I had already decided that I would see her set at Húrra later, but this delightful, intimate preview sealed the deal.
The next pitstop on my list of receptions to drag Ira to was one hosted by the Faroese Music Export Office—because tonight, the Faroese were taking over IÐNÓ! While we were there we were approached by a remarkable young man, decked out in a matching tracksuit and round black sunglasses. “This is, of course, the one and only Marius DC,” Glenn Larsen from the Expo Office said, introducing us and explaining that we were journalists. “Y’all better come back for the show later, it’s gonna be a religious experience,” the baby rapper drawled at us. God, I love the audacity of the young. Whatever this religion is, sign me the fuck up.
But before Marius was his fellow Faroese artist, Guðrið Hansdóttir and her band. Guðrið possessed the stage, a vision in all white. The vibe and songwriting definitely put me in mind of Systur. Her band were tight and the delivery was spot on. Except, I just wasn’t that into what they were delivering. After a couple of perfectly pleasant songs that did nothing for me, I bailed and headed to Fríkirkjan to catch Sóley.
Now, here was a true religious experience. The church was packed, but the staff continued to try and squeeze as many people in as possible so that no-one would miss out on their required dose of Sóley goodness. My only little complaint is that I wish they wouldn’t do it mid-song so it was less disruptive—just wait for a break guys! Sóley alternated between different keyed instruments, accompanied by drum kit, viola—and one guy who played guitar, bass and a whole host of synths. Give that guy a raise, Sóley.
But really, where to start? Sóley is what people who hate Björk’s new albums wish Björk sounded like (and therefore, we should just quit this whole idiot argument already). She’s a magical human being with the most unique, ethereal voice, and she held the audience in the palm of her hand as she treated us to renditions of songs from her ‘Modern Melancholia’ album. For the last two numbers she switched to the accordion—and still managed to sing beautifully as well. Keep in mind that playing the accordion is already like patting your head and rubbing your stomach, so to add singing is like doing all of that and casually making a cheeseburger at the same time.
Next up was another dose of Eliza Shaddad, this time with her band at Húrra. It was fascinating to see her perform versions of songs I had heard just hours before, in an entirely different context. Eliza also explained her involvement in the global music programme Keychange, which promotes gender equality in the music industry. “I’m here because of Keychange,” she told the crowd before quickly correcting herself: “Well no, I’m here because I’m a fucking amazing musician!” Amen, sister.
Finally, it was time to head back to IÐNÓ for the reverent experience I had been waiting for all night. And let me tell you, Mr Motherfucking Marius DC did not disappoint. Bounding all over the stage with unbelievable energy (he is, of course, only 18. He still has energy), Marius ended his first song by bellowing, “WHAT THE FUCK IS UP, REYKJAVíííííK?” Holy shit, I don’t think I’ve had so much fun at a gig in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, Marius is a tiny baby rapper, full of youthful cringe and naivety. But regardless of his juvenility or anything else, he is undeniably an incredible entertainer and performer, the like of which I rarely come across. The whole house was in uproar as he ran through the crowd, shouted about being, “the best fucking rapper to ever come out of the Faroe Islands,” and generally gave us the night of our lives. And what’s more: his band was great. Like, really, really, genuinely good, despite also all being babies. This is the one thing that might give Marius the edge long term. So many young hiphop artists struggle to find a quality backing sound, and he’s got that sorted. Watch this space, and say some Hail Marys while you’re at it.
However, Marius definitely has some growing up to do before he can match the talent, poise and experience of Countess Malaise. She took to the stage in Húrra in an all-white, loose knit outfit, with matching white eye makeup, and damn, she looked hard as nails. Her set was fast, sharp, angular—and yet, somehow completely emotional as well. And, as an added bonus, true to the spirit of spontaneity and collaboration synonymous with this festival, she even brought on her little brother—an inspiring hiphop artist—to do a track of his own. Family forever, right?
By now the queues were growing and the night was reaching its finale. I decided to end it by giving the Faroese dance phenomenon Janus Rasmussen another blast after feeling somewhat unmoved by his show in Gaukurinn the previous night. Right away it was plain to tell that IÐNÓ suited him far better. His set was fantastic, the visuals and lighting were engaging, and the crowd were with him, all the way to the very back of the room. What a difference the right stage makes.
Josie Anne Gaitens
A Ring Starr Lookalike, And The Happiest People On Earth
I was very excited as I left my home with a bottle of beer and walked towards the Art Museum for my first Airwaves festival. Last night was cold and breezy but I felt warm and giddy inside when I entered the venue. I had seen pictures from earlier festivals and always been jealous of the people that are seen crammed at the front, singing their lungs out and looking like the most happy people on earth. Now it was my time.
First up was the RnB band Emotional Oranges from Los Angeles, who I didn’t know a lot about. I managed to get to the very front (mission accomplished!) and was quite pumped when the band members, Azad Right and Vali came out in their Supreme attire, with visuals playing on a big screen in the background. I felt like I had stepped into a time machine that took me back to 1998. This was probably because of the music, the lights and the smoke machine being in overdrive—the only thing missing was letters on the screen saying the show was produced by Hype Williams. The fact that Ms. Right covered “Killing me softly” helped also—which she did very well by the way. The show was very nice I have to say, the chemistry between Azad and Vali was great, I would think they do more than sing together when they meet up, but maybe they are just very touchy people…The band had two background dancers of the highest calibre for this kind of music, which gave the show a vibrant touch, as they also took part in some theatrical acts with Vali from time to time, which was an original and matched the attitude of the whole group.
I headed for the bar to cool down after watching all this bumping, twerking and grinding in front of me and to use the opportunity to queue in the WC line, which maybe I deserved, because there was a total lack of a queue outside the museum when I entered. It was by far the longest line I have ever been in to go for a pee and there was excitement in the air. Not just “I really need to pee” tension, but mainly because next up was the British band Metronomy. After finally making it to the bathroom I headed for the main hall as the show was about to start. It was getting quite packed and I managed to squeeze myself into the middle of the area, which wasn’t a problem as I’m quite tall so I had a good view, but I was little bit disappointed with my timing of leaving the room, as I didn’t get the chance to be in the front and be one of the most happy people in the world. But to make a long story short, Metronomy is now one of my favourite bands! What a show! First of all, the band members seem so much fun, I would love to attend a dinner party with them, which would obviously end in a sing-along. Second of all, the members are very good at what they do, showing their skills in fabulous way as the show went on. Their front man, Joseph Mount, is very charismatic and with the talented Anna Prior on drums, it seems the band cannot fail. That, as well as the funny dancing keyboard players with their matching polo shirts and very energetic bass player gave the show some X factor and the museum was absolutely rocking and very packed! When the bands belted out their biggest hit the crowd went crazy like it was New Year’s Eve and the vibe produced the biggest grin on my face for ages, I even started laughing out loud, out of pure joy and happiness!
To finish the night off, on stage came Altın Gün. The museum had filled back up, as many had left after the last act, but word had got out about this mysterious Turkish group. And boy, they did not disappoint. It felt like meeting a long lost family from another part of the world. Like there was a confirmation party going on with new and foreign traditions. The music was awesome, the stage filled with interesting characters; a Ringo Starr look-alike on drums, a friendly uncle type with a moustache on bongos, and a long haired front man, playing his instruments in an almost religious way. The other leading member, Ms. Merve Dasdemir not only sang brilliantly throughout the show, but also taught the audience a Turkish dance, which was that simple that the whole audience took part and suddenly I felt like I was in a festival in Istanbul, surrounded by locals doing their happy dance. As I left the venue after the show, I noticed a smile on every face and I’m so glad to have been there and to know why the faces lit up like that. Aron Ingi
I Don’t Like Metronomy. Does It Make Me A Bad Person?
I started my night tagging along to a reception at the British Embassy in Reykjavík. Not only is the ambassador a lovely human being, she also has a great taste in books. The reception’s highlight was a performance by Eliza Shaddad, a Sudanese-Scottish artist. Having never heard of Eliza before, I was quickly blown away by her powerful voice and great personality. Eliza performed a couple of solo songs and invited everyone to check out a show with her band later at Húrra. One of the songs was dedicated to Eliza’s grandmothers, both of whom passed away but had a significant influence on the artist’s childhood and adult life. It was touching and made me think of my grandmothers (both of whom are also gone) and also about multiculturalism in general. Multilingual and multicultural people have always fascinated me, I truly believe that this tacky quote ‘the more languages you know, the more you are human’ makes sense, cause Eliza seemed a little bit more human than most of us in that room last night.
After taking advantage of some free drinks being served at Iðnó, I sprinted off to Gamla Bíó for BSÍ. I could only stay for half of the gig because another band I wanted to see was playing in a different location. I’ve seen Julius and Silla live before, so I knew I was up for a good show. People standing behind me seemed surprised, though. “They seem way more experienced than I thought,” I heard someone say as they danced to “My knee against kyriarchy.” Silla combines playing drums with vocals and she admitted from the stage, it’s not an easy task sometimes. “We wanted to play instruments we didn’t know how to play. I ended up choosing drums and regret it sometimes,” she laughed. Despite being a duo, BSÍ wanted to sound like a quartet, so bass player Julius learned to play synths with his toes. So far it works well! I wanted to hear “Jelly Belly” but instead got a chance to listen to the band practise a new song without lyrics. I promised my future self to never miss half of the BSÍ concert again, and ran to Gaukurinn.
Gaukurinn has already become my least favourite location during this Airwaves, so I’m almost not surprised the floors were so sticky, it was hard to dance. I even found it charming. I only caught a glimpse of Sucks to be you, Nigel, but it was a solid rock show. I definitely need to check more of their music, but my first impression was: what a screamer! I have no clue who Nigel is, but I do hope he hasn’t missed the show. As I left Gaukurinn, I overheard a conversation: “I don’t love this.”— “Same.”
At this point, I had around an hour to kill before the next show I wanted to see, so I decided to go to Iðnó for a Faroese music showcase. The band on stage—Kóboykex looked as weird as they sound—true cowboys of the Faroes. The show was extremely fun though and rather unpredictable. “We are the Alabama of Europe,” said the frontman and continued, “Would you like a song that is instrumental but has a lot of oomph?” I did want that! Kóboykex were so energetic it was infectious. And it definitely made me want to explore the Faroese music scene more. I heard there’s a festival. Should I go there next summer?
“I’m Marius fucking DC and I’m the greatest rapper to ever come out the Faroe Islands,” screamed the next act, immediately wanting me to stay for his gig. Normally, people who wear sunglasses inside put me off, but Marius DC needs extra swag, we do understand. Having spent some time in Greenland last summer, I thought, “Oh is he wearing something similar to a traditional Inuit anorak?” No, he’s not, he’s from the Faroe Islands, I immediately corrected myself. I did like his look though, might have been the coolest track pants I’ve seen this year. Again, I wonder, how long does it take to ship Nike to the Faroes? I’m not into hip hop in general, but wow, Marius fucking DC was fucking amazing.
Next on the list—Metronomy, the band many of the IA visitors wanted to see most, considering the giant queue outside. Luckily, I used the press entrance, but even then I didn’t fully know what I was doing there. I haven’t listened to Metronomy for a good 10 years. These days they end up on my playlist only on shuffle, and lyrics-wise my knowledge doesn’t go much beyond “The Bay” and “The Look”. The crowd was having a time of their lives though, as if they spent the last decade or two living in the cave and have discovered Metronomy just now. Halfway through the gig, I messaged a friend asking: “Do you actually like Metronomy?” He said yes, making me even more confused than before. I stayed until the end, dancing to the old hits and observing Icelanders and foreigners indulge in a band that probably has already passed the peak of their fame. Metronomy, I really tried hard.
I ran into a friend and he shared the same emotions towards Metronomy, but advised me to check the next band playing at the Art Museum—Altın Gün, Turkish psychedelic rock from the Netherlands. For me, this was the greatest discovery of the night. It sounded unique, fresh and the mix of traditional and modern was just amazing. Can I teleport to the mountains of Cappadocia and just listen to Altın Gün all day long?
I finished my second night at IA 2022 at Húrra, with a complete jam by Ultraflex. The band is definitely inspired by old-school funk and disco vibes, but they make it sounds so unique, even a bit premature for the year 2022. Ultraflex’s music is synth-heavy, but so sensible, I felt I was gliding through the warm ocean not the sweaty crowd of Húrra. Also, Ultraflex brought some other local artists to collaborate with them on stage. I mean, where else would you see dreamy synths combined with a sax improvisation?Iryna Zubenko
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