From Iceland — Alexander's Saturday Iceland Airwaves Diary: Mixed Energy Levels

Alexander’s Saturday Iceland Airwaves Diary: Mixed Energy Levels

Published November 6, 2023

Everyone I met or talked to tonight was in a rallying mood and ready to take on Airwaves Saturday. After three days of running between venues, meeting friends both old and new and seeing terrific concerts: My energy level was a tad diminished. But I did manage to catch four different acts I was excited to see.

First up was composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir’s project Kónguló at Fríkirkjan. She was joined by close collaborators Neonme, Baldur Hjörleifsson and Albert Finnbogason amongst others. I imagined grand cinematic landscapes jelling well here. My favorite song had this eerie synthesizer lead that made me think of horror movies.


The dynamic on-stage here was great, well-tuned and the group somehow managed to make it seem so easy. The group finished their set off with an epic piece with blaring horns and a drum machine buildup which quite frankly gave me the shivers. Könguló thoroughly managed to hold the audience’s attention who seemed pensive and introspective as the group performed their songs for them masterfully. It was a movie.

Next up was my favorite Icelandic band: ex.girls [formerly known as russian.girls]. Bestu mín. Guðlaugur Halldór Einarsson’s project formed initially as a creative outlet for his solo experiments but has for a few years been a trio effort with Tatjana Dís and Gylfi Sigurðsson. Tonight they nailed their set of older and new tracks.

I especially liked the live mixing here as one could hear slight and sometimes considerable changes to the sound and structure of each song compared to the streamed versions. Their music makes my feet move — especially during “Halda áfram” which has it’s own dance as seen in the music video — and I simply love the fresh, interestingly wonky, off-kilter production and near-atonal vocalizations. Also, their lyrics somehow manage to be both nonsensical and deeply introspective at the same time. So cool.

They have an LP out on Bjarki’s bbbbbb recors label soon. If you haven’t given ex.girls a chance yet, now is as good a time as any.

I went over to Gamla bíó where Dustin O’Halloran performed a serene and at times beautifully somber set accompanied by a violinist and cellist. O’Halloran is an American composer and pianist. Aside from releasing music as a recording artist, O’Halloran is a film and TV composer. My favorite parts were quiet moments where the string players plucked the strings of their instruments to great effect. The visuals where an interesting mix of imagery that could have come out of a science book.

I went to Prikið to have a beer and catch some of DJXWIFE’s DJ set which was an energetic, bubbly mix of trancey electronic music. During my stay at Prikið I decided that going to see Clubdub perform at IA Center would be my next move. Clubdub performed all their most known songs for a packed venue. I have a sweetspot for their upbeat energy and their sometimes-gibberish-lyrics that you can choose to take seriously or not. Clubdub is such a mood and I was pumped to be a part of a crowd that seemed to know every song they played by heart.

I spent the remainder of my night hanging out at the newly opened RADAR club where Húrra used to be. There, DJ Þorgerður Jóhanna — Icelandic DJ & producer based in Oslo — played an interesting mix of groovy, mysterious and engaging electronic dance numbers.

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

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