From Iceland — Iryna’s Friday Night Iceland Airwaves Diary: DIY Punk Shenanigans And... Nothing More

Iryna’s Friday Night Iceland Airwaves Diary: DIY Punk Shenanigans And… Nothing More

Published November 4, 2023

Photo by
Joana Fontinha

On the Friday of Iceland Airwaves 2023, I spend a lot of time thinking of Charles Bukowski. One of his poems is particularly stuck in my head.


nobody did anything outrageous or ugly

or interesting 

everybody was nicely dull.

we ate, we drank, we conversed.

at one time a huge blast and roar of 

fireworks raged across the


nobody looked up.

I put the corkscrew to a new bottle of


all the animals were 


(Charles Bukowski)

I think about this poem over and over as I engage in conversations and get drinks throughout the night. Bukowski hated parties and, most of the time, so do I.

My inner monologue gets way too philosophical, but this time I’m looking for one. I just can’t seem to find the right one.

First stop: slowshift at Fríkirkjan

slowshift describes themselves “as the kind of band that reminds you why you fell in love with music in the first place,” and they couldn’t have said it better. Classical meets modern, happy meets sad, atheists meet believers – these thoughts run through my head as Jesus is looking down at me from the altar (again). On an average Friday night, a concert like this would be the topic of all conversations, on an Airwaves night, I’m after more.

I stop by Iðnó for jazzygold. The Faroe Music Export has become one of the interesting highlights of the festival over the years. Until this day, when someone mentions the Faroe Islands, my mind thinks of the island’s rapper Marius DC who lit up Iðnó with his energy last year. Turns out I’m not the only one for whom Faroese music associates with Marius; I heard his name mentioned at least five times throughout the evening.

And while I resonate with many things jazzygold talks about from the stage – heartbreak and other things that come with navigating your ‘panic years,’ aka twenties – the music is too pop for my liking tonight.

I sprint to Gamla Bíó for GRÓA, and boy, I wish I was there earlier. Grapevine’s ‘One To Watch’ 2019 still lives up to the title – the three-piece girl punk band certainly puts on a show – eclectic, fun, and energising. My drummer friend comments, “the drummer is very good,” but it’s later that I read that Hrafnhildur Einars Maríudóttir who’s on the drums in GRÓA  is completely self-taught. She learned to play drums from YouTube tutorials. In fact, the same applies to the whole band. Complete DIY punk shenanigans.

With a short break, I end up at Fríkirkjan again. Nanna, the singer of OMAM, is playing here with her solo project. Having released her first solo album, How To Start A Garden, earlier this year, I admit that a few of Nanna’s songs ended up on my playlist. According to my Spotify, I listened most to “Godzilla,” “Seabed,” and “Voyager.” Compared to Nanna’s work with OMAM, this feels more indie, slow, and deep maybe? Again, on an average week, this would satisfy me for days, but it’s “Airwaves, baby!” so I’m on the lookout for more.

There’s some mixup in the schedule, and the next artist on my list – AGGRASOPPAR – finishes ten minutes early. For a person who has to be in three places at the same time, this is a bit of an inconvenience. I was promised the band would compensate for Marius DC not being here. I’m there for just one song, but I definitely enjoy what I’m seeing. Whatever flower-punk is, I’m a fan now. Also, are they performing in their pyjamas? Jealous.

I stop by for a few more bands, not liking anything, and head off to the Art Museum for Bombay Bicycle Club. They play the only song I really like first, and I take it way too personally – for me, it’s all downhill from here.

The crowd feels the opposite – despite Bombay Bicycle Club playing in Iceland multiple times, some people are here specifically for them, and some flew here just for the band.

I wait in line for hip hop trio Kneecap from Northern Ireland everyone’s talking about but am not able to get in. Classic Gaukurinn. 

At this point it feels like someone was expecting something really big from this night, but couldn’t get. Or is just me? I hope that a late night beer at Skúli can make my mood better, but nope, they’ve just closed the bar.

Nobody knows where’s the afterparty, my brain cites Bukowski again, I go home.

P.S. If you do know where the afterparty is, let me know:

Follow along with the all the Grapevine’s Iceland Airwaves 2023 coverage here.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!