My Guide to Airwaves 2011, part 1: Icelandic Bands

Iceland Airwaves is around the corner. There’s an enourmous amount of bands playing, but you have only five days to catch what you can. On top of that, chances are you don’t even have any idea what you want to see most of the time, as there is so much new music, and who has time to keep up on that stuff anyway?

To help make some sense of it all I’ll attempt to introduce the acts I’m personally most interested in. I’ll start with the Icelandic bands since I’ve had the opportunity to see most of these already. I am in no way trying to be all-inclusive, this list is just based on what I am familiar with and appreciate.

On a side note, I personally recommend spending your days catching off-venue performances. It’s a lighter atmosphere — not pitch-black dark, not as loud (both the music and the roar of audience doing their best to be heard over it).  It’s a nice excuse to walk around downtown in the daytime. And in most cases there won’t be long lines. My experience from last year was that if you’re trying to catch a more popular band at a venue like Nasa or Iðnó, if you’re not in by 10pm or so, you’re probably going to be waiting in a long line for a long time in the frosty rain. So if you were hoping you could hop from venue to venue to catch all your favorite bands, think again. Most of the off-venue schedule consists of Icelandic bands, so it may be wise to catch as many of them as you can off-venue.

Also, it is Icelandic tradition to stay at home and get boozed up and then show up to shows late. This is unfortunate as many of the best bands are playing early, and often the bands playing around midnight are way over-hyped.

Without further adue,

Let me start by mentioning that members of Just Another Snake Cult are also in Sudden Weather Change, Markús and the Diversion Sessions, and The Heavy Experience. All of these bands have been working on new material, and I can hardly wait to hear the finished products. It’s all looking to be very promising.

And now in alphabetical order:

Bárujárn make dark music with searing surf-rock guitar.

Thursday, 21:40 @ Amsterdam*
Friday, 20:00 @ Bar 11**
Saturday, 20:30 @ Dillon**

Berndsen does 80s throwback synthpop pop. Reminds me of Duran Duran or Aha.
Wednesday 16:00 @ Hressingarskálinn**
Friday i8 house party**
Saturday 21:40 @ Nasa*

Fist Fokkers is some sort of punk/power violence duo that remind me of XBXRX. They are a testiment to the adage, sometimes big things come in little packages.

Thursday, 23:30 @ Amsterdam*

Gang Related is an alternative/beach pop band with loud guitars and fuzzed out bass. It may be freezing outside, but these guys will still be cranking out the summer jams.

Friday, 19:10 @ Amsterdam*

Hermigervill does some really cool retro electronic music stuff. His last two albums combine Icelandic classics (mostly oldies) with vintage synthesizers, and to great effect. To top it off, he plays theremin. Expect a really great vibe.

Friday, @ i8 house party**
Saturday, 23:00 @ Faktorý Downstairs*
Sunday, 20:00 @ Nasa*

Just Another Snake Cult … well that’s us!

Wednesday, 16:00 @ KEX**
Wednesday, 19:30 @ Barbara**
Thursday, 22:00 @ Rekjavik Backpackers**
Friday, 16:00 @ Kaffistofan**
Friday, 01:10 @ Amsterdam*

Kira Kira falls under the label “krútt” or twee or cutesy ala Múm (I think they share(d) drummers?), Sigur Rós, Amiina, etc. Should be of interest to lovers of Icelandic export music.

Thursday, 19:00 @ Fríkirkjan*

Lay Low plays some good ole’ Patsy Cline-style country blues.

Thursday 17:00 @ Reyakjvík Downtown Hostel**
Thurdsay 18:30 @ KEX Hostel**
Thursday 20:30 @ Barbara**
Thurdsay 23:20 @ Glaumbar*
Friday 21:40 @ Iðnó*

Markús and the Diversion Sessions is a really talented singer-songwriter and his backup band, which includes female back-up singers and a horn section.

Wednesday, 23:20 @ Harpa Kaldalón*
Saturday, 17:00 @ Kormákur og Sjöldur**

Mr Silla is members from a lot of Reykjavík bands (Múm, Seabear, Kimono, …) doing a sort of 90s girl-rocker thing.

Thursday 22:30 @ Amsterdam*

Mugison I’ve had an Icelandic friend describe as “cute blues,” which if that sounds meaningless just goes to show how useless the Icelandic concept of “krútt” is to people with foreign musical upbringings. Mugison is known abroad though, and for reason, he’s a great songwriter, singer, and performer.

Thursday, 17:00 @ KEX Hostel**
Friday, 21:40 @ Harpa Norðurljós*

Damn, only half-way through my list.

Ojba Rasta. If you’d told me two years ago I’d be digging a reggae band I’d have given you a skeptical look. What won me over is that here is a really tight band with catchy songs, fun energy, a live dub-master keeping the chaos in balance.

Wednesday, 00:00 Faktorý Main

Orphic Oxtra is a 13-person balkan folk inspired ensemble. They can be really fun.

Wednesday 20:00 @ Nasa*
Thursday 12:00 @ Munnharpan**
Saturday 14:45 @ Norræna Húsið**
Sunday 20:00 @ Gaukur á Stöng*

Retro Stefson is a fun band mixing all sorts of pop music with an energetic live show.

Wednesday 17:00 @ Hessingaskálinn**
Wednesday 20:30 @ KEX Hostel*
Thursday 22:00 @ Listasafn*
Friday 18:00 @ Kormákur og Skjöldur**
Sunday 22:00 @ Nasa*

Samaris is a cool electronic music tríó, which includes a clarinet player and the singer from Pascal Pinon. They just released their debut EP.

Wednesday 18:30 @ KEX**
Wednesday 19:30 @ Kaffistofan
Saturday 16:00 @ Reykjavík Downtown Hostel**

Sin Fang is Iceland’s rising star of indie-pop. Started as a side-project of Seabear’s singer but quickly grew to be a band of its own.

Thursday 18:00 @ Hressingaskálinn**
Thursday 23:20 @ Iðnó*

Snorri Helgason does a really good job doing indie-folk grooning ala Fleet Foxes.

Wednesday 00:10 @ Harpa Kaldalón*
Thursday 00:10 @ Glaumbar*
Friday i8 hour party**
Saturday 15:00 @ Reykjavík Downtown Hostel**
Saturday 18:00 @ Kormákur og Skjöldur**
Sunday 18:30 @ KEX**

Sudden Weather Change is a loud indie rock band with lots of guitars and singers.

Saturday, 17:00 @ KEX Hostel**
Saturday, 01:00 @ Iðnó*

The Heavy Experience is what is says it is. It’s slow and broading, with some twang and, of course, saxophone!

Sunday, 21:00 @ Amsterdam*

Útidúr is a large band playing Beirut type stuff.

Friday 15:00 @ Reykjavík Backpackers**
Friday 01:20 @ Iðnó* (note: this is the same time as us.)
Saturday 17:00 @ Reykjavík Downtown Hostel**

* On-venue (festival pass required)
** Off-venue (free admitance, no pass required)

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