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Iceland Airwaves 2015

1860 Amiina Apparat Organ Quartet AMFJ
Bloodgroup Dj. flugvél og geimskip FM Belfast For a Minor Reflection
Futuregrapher In the Company of Men John Grant Jónas Sen
Kimono Knife fights Lay Low Legend
MAMMÚT Momentum Ojba Rasta Oyama
Pétur Ben Sin Fang Snorri Helgason Sudden Weather Change
Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson(Doddi) Vigri

Taste of Iceland Boston 2015

tasteoficeland

The annual Taste of Iceland event is here March 12th through the 16th.  This year there is a great dinner menu at Tavern Road , a community discussion between specialists in Reykjavik and Boston on future Innovations in energy and transportation, the Reykjavik calling concert, and an Icelandic film festival at Kendall Square Cinemas.  You can make reservations, and learn about the entire event here.

Now let’s focus on the music. Reykjavik calling, an annual concert is once again at the Middle East Club in Cambridge March 14th, doors open at 8.

RC

Iceland Naturally traditionally grabs a couple bands from Iceland, and a couple bands from the local scene, then tosses them together to collaborate and put on a show.  These tend to be unique shows as the musicians really make it feel like a party.  It’s a chance to discover new artists or new things about the artists you already like.   Best of all, it’s free.

It’s recommended that you RSVP for the event via Eventbrite, but getting in is first come first serve.  This event gets crowded, so from past experience I suggest you show up early as the lines build quickly and I’ve seen them wrap around the Middle East more often than not.

This year two Icelandic bands, Kaleo and BeeBee and the BlueBirds, will play along with two Boston outfits, Love in Stockholm and George Knight with Pablo Palooza.

Kaleo began in 2012, and saw their S/T album hit number 1 in 2013.  A pleasant blend of Bon Iver and Black keys.

Beebee and the Bluebirds is a jazzy rock band fronted by Brynhildur Oddsdóttir.  She’s got one of those great soulful voices, and naturally entertains crowds.

Love in Stockholm is good old rock from Allston.  Blending classic with modern, they have a local reputation for great live gigs, and have built a great following around the New England area.

George Knight and Pablo Palooza are rock/soul/funk locals.  George, a DJ at WERS during the day, musician all the time perfectly compliments the Pablo Palooza players bringing a lot of energy wherever they play.

I asked a slightly altered version of my nonsensical questions.  Beebee & the Bluebirds (BBB) Love in Stockholm (LiS) and Pablo Palooza (PaB) were kind enough to answer.

1. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get?

  • (BBB) Black striped violet red….
  • (LiS) ROY G. BIV
  • (PaB) Black

2. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Iceland/Boston origin?

3. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song?

  • (BBB) I would be a black panther singing “Think”
  • (LiS) A minotaur playing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”
  • (PaB) I would be an Eagle playing “I Am” by Earth Wind and Fire

Taste of Iceland is always a fantastic time, make sure to check some of it out.  Check out more info on all the bands below, and we’ll see you there.

Iceland Airwaves 2015

First bands have been announced, and they were announced in a cleverly fantastic way by the cleverly fantastic Dj. Flugvél og Geimskip in a great video posted below:

As I did for 2014 and 2013, I will list all of the Icelandic bands playing, loosely divided into genres on this page.  Currently there are 11 bands, so I am just going to list them all together for the time being.  Click on the name and you will be taken to samples of their music.  These are just the Icelandic bands, if you want to see the full list with more links, visit the Iceland Airwaves Line-up page.

Asonat DJ Flugvél og Geimskip Fufanu GusGus
Júníus Meyvant M-Band Pink Street Boys Teitur Magnússon
Tonik Ensemble Yagya Young Karin

It’s never too early to get your tickets, as they tend to be cheaper early on, and if you are planning on doing a package you’ll have more hotel options in the beginning.  visit the Iceland Airwaves website for more info on all your options.  And if you want to see what the past has been like, here is a link to all my Iceland Airwaves related posts.  And here is the link to the Iceland Airwaves Flickr page if you want to see just how fun this festival really is.

Hope to see you there.

Gangly

gangly

2014 ended shrouded in mystery as a new song seemed to appear out of thin air.  A link to Gangly, “Fuck with someone else” appeared in one of the Grapeviner’s inbox, no description, no details, just a link to a Youtube video.

The vocals are smooth and haunting, backed by an intense but minimal Massive attack-esque beat which combined with the trippy animation makes for quite the haunting track. Sure it’s a bit NSFW but the overall composition is smooth and dark and you hardly realize what the the lyrics are going on about.  It has become one of my favorite tracks of 2014, by the music alone.

In defense of my love for Icelandic music, I’ve been quoted as saying Icelanders make music fun.  They are willing to try new things, laugh off the failures and embrace the things that they themselves dig the most.  This has created an incredibly diverse musical island, and while it’s diverse, they tend to find a way to collaborate all that diversity into great sounding music.

This track is the personification of that theory.  A few musicians getting together, having fun, and trying something out.  Gangly is a collaboration of musicians that are quite successful by their own right, and they somehow got together and created this track just for the sake of creation.  Talking with one of them, even the element of becoming a mystery wasn’t completely planned out, but they are going with it because it’s fun.  This and the actual track definitely make it one of my favorite new songs of 2014.

There are more songs planned for the future, and you can follow their Facebook or Soundcloud pages for more info.

T’is the season for new music, Snarl 4

snarl4It’s been decades since the last Snarl,  and Dr. Gunni certainly exceeded expectations with this 4th edition.  The compilation contains a broad assortment of what is coming up and is going around Iceland.  It’s not just double rainbows, bowed guitars, elven harmonies or hair model horses.  It’s everything from deep dark meaty punk to folk;  trippy rock to dizzying funk.  Its all encompassing with 25 great bands anyone that appreciates music will end up digging.  What else would you expect from the author of one of my favorite history of Icelandic pop-rock books, Blue eyed pop.

You can listen and purchase the compilation here on Bandcamp.  Either get a digital copy for $10, or an actual CD including a foldout cover with pictures of the band, and a long summation by Haukur S Magnússon of Grapevine. for $20.  Here are just a few of what I feel are the lesser known bands you’ll find on the comp:

Pink Street BoysEvel Knievel

They were one of the favorite new bands of Airwaves, and justifiably so.  Dirty, punkish rock that required one to take a shower after seeing them rock the shit out of wherever they played.  I was looking forward to seeing them at Airwaves, and they didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

Kælan MiklaEkkert Nema Ég

I’ve got a soft spot for this band, they really tore it up at Airwaves, and brought back nostalgic memories of Hole before the celebrity.  Angry angry gals with heavy beats behind them.  This isn’t the song on the album, but a good representation, and it was filmed in one of my favorite bars in Iceland, Bar 11, quite possibly by a drunk individual….not me.

Dj. flugvél og geimskipDraugur I Kastalanum

The compilation isn’t just dark heavy punk and rock, Dj. flugvél og geimskip, the alter ego of Steinunn Eldflaug Harðardóttir is one of the sweetest beings out there, and her funky trippy manner is best witnessed live.  Again not the song on the comp, but my favorite video of hers.

KVÖLWatching Me

KVÖL is the new project of one of my favorite Icelandic artists, Þórir Georg.  I first heard him when he was My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, and as he progressed through the years, so did his music, like a crazy river ever evolving, this new project has a fantastic gothic, Joy divisionist feel to it.  You can actually hear a lot more from him on Soundcloud, and I suggest you do, He’s releasing an album that will combine his two EPs as well as some newer stuff soon.

These along with a lot of Icelandic favorites, such as Prins Póló, Just Another Snake Cult, Mugison, Grisalappalisa & Megas, Börn, Knife fights, and Sindri Eldon are all included, and honestly this post could go on forever.  I highly suggest you go over to Bandcamp and give it a listen now.  This comp has definitely earned it’s spot as one of my favorite releases of the year.

Iceland Affair 2014

Icelandaffair

There are times in life when the elements align themselves just right, and the blood sweat and tears of someone creating their dream shines through the end product in such a way that one can’t help but be moved.  That is what happened this past weekend in a beautifully autumn colored town in middle-of-nowhere Connecticut.

This was the 5th year for Iceland Affair, an all day festival consisting of daytime lectures, Icelandic horses, goats, falcons, A lot of Icelandic food, and coffee mugs, let’s not forget the coffee mugs. All of this followed by an Icelandic concert at the very homey and cozy Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.

gerri

Gerri Griswald is the lady behind Iceland affair, and once you’ve come within 50 feet of her, you can’t help but get swept up with her charming personality, glacier-sized determination and outpouring of love to everyone and everything that helps her put this on year over year. Speaking with her can’t be done without 90% of what’s audible being laughs.  And the sincere love she has for what she’s doing is beyond impressive.

Arriving at the festival I was greeted by people riding Icelandic horses, Lopopeysas (Icelandic sweaters) and other Icelandic merchandise for sale out on the front lawn.  Downstairs from the lectures there were free pylsurs (Icelandic hotdogs), dried fish, and very tasty cakes.  Upstairs from the dining hall, and merch tables was the lecture hall.

Unfortunately due to scheduling and life, I arrived at the festival later in the afternoon, and was only able to hear the last half of Dr. Gunni’s lecture on the history of pop music. Along with other tidbits of Music life in Iceland, Dr. Gunni’s presentation followed his book, Blue Eyed pop, with audio/visual aids and a Q&A with the audience directly afterwards.  A browse around the merchandise, fantastic cake, and a few pylsurs later and off to the concert I went.

flags The concert was at the Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  It’s a cozy ornamental building, and the concert hall’s warm woodwork really played into what would be a cozy, intimate gathering.  On their way to their seats, the crowd was given Icelandic flags, and told to wave it during applause as a surprise to the musicians on stage.

I’ve spoken about the ability Icelanders have of including the crowd in their performance.  And Agnes ErnaSnorri Helgason, Svavar Knútur, Lay LowMyrra Rós, Kristjana Stefánsdóttir,  and Bjorn Thoroddsen. fulfilled and exceeded any expectations in that regard as they chatted, joked with, and shared laughs with everyone on or off the stage.  It was a collaborative effort as the musicians took turns at front stage while being supported by the others, all ending with Dr. Gunni’s fart song and a special two-toned tutu wearing host belting out an old classic with the rest of the band.  I also should mention that drums were mostly handled by Myrra’s husband Júlíus, I unfortunately did not catch his last name.

By the end of the concert, the crowd was completely on their feet singing loudly and waving flags furiously, and it seemed that neither the musicians nor the audience wanted it to end, so the party headed downstairs where the musicians talked with and autographed Icelandic flags for people. the lingering about and business of the downstairs made it evident, nobody was in a hurry to leave.

Plans are in the works for next years event, and I would highly suggest you check it out by following the Iceland Affair facebook page throughout the year.  She tends to post videos or updates on the bands that have played, as well as updates on the festival itself.

I have to say that I am glad me and my label got to do our small part to help out on this festival, it’s truly a labor of love for Gerri, and the quality, attitude, and atmosphere created a charming night I won’t soon forget.  I’m already looking forward to seeing what she comes up with for next year.

Tips for Iceland Airwaves 2014

Entire Harpa audience on the ground

Entire Harpa audience on their knees at FM Belfast

Another year, another Iceland Airwaves.  It’s time again for one of my favorite music festivals of the year.   Me, you, and approximately 9,000 other festival ticket holders will be invading the city of Reykjavik for 5 days of non-stop music, art and beauty surrounded by amazing scenery and  unique culture.  I’ve revised my list of pointers I’ve gathered over the years, and here they be:

The first and probably best tip I can give you is that Positivity and awareness of the people around you goes a long way.  Iceland can be quite laid back, and while there typically is no rush, its people will do their best to help you in most any situation. It’s a small island, and there really isn’t room for ego’s or entitlements so do your best not to be rude or condescending.  if something is taking longer than usual or needs a little tinkering to be just right, just breathe and remember that 9,000+ of us just landed on the island and the folks helping us out are most likely doing their best. Getting cross or yelling at people will get you absolutely nowhere.

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!, there are over 200 bands playing in a matter of 5 days. Learn you stuff before you even land, make primary plans as well as back up plans in the event you can’t get into the primary gigs you want to see. Spotify has an Airwaves playlist, the Iceland Airwaves website has details on all the bands with links to their music, as well as an app where you can browse bands, create schedules, and let your friends know where you are.

I have a page dedicated to the Iceland Artists loosely sorted by genres. There is going to be a lot of new music you haven’t heard, and getting a head start on previewing it will make for a broader, more musically expanding experience.   There is a free English newspaper in Iceland called the Grapevine.  They always put out a detailed Airwaves issue, and I suggest you get that as well.

Pétur Ben at an off-venue gig at Kex Hostel

Pétur Ben at an off-venue gig at Kex Hostel

There are a lot of Off-venue gigs as well, over 600 of them this year at 44 different spots around the city. Off-venues are shorter daytime gigs the bands put on in coffee houses, hostels, and other gathering places around the city. You don’t need a festival wristband to get into them, so if you are planning on seeing someone, it’s always a good idea to get there early as it’s first come first serve for the whole city.

 

Be Social, chances are you will find yourself waiting in a queue for a gig, or standing around waiting for a band to begin. Use that time to talk to the people around you. We all have our love for music in common and talking with someone near you may lead to discoveries of bands you would have never thought to go and hear. It took me a few years to get used to this, and a few of my Icelandic friends are always commenting that I need to be more social. The key advantage to being social is that there are quite a few after-parties and unplanned sets that happen around Reykjavik, being social will make attending these much easier for you.

If you really like a band, buy their merch at the festival. A lot of times you won’t be able to purchase it, or have to pay huge shipping costs otherwise.  Reykjavik is home to two of my favorite record shops, 12 Tónar and Lucky Records.  So make sure to include browsing these shops in your itinerary for the festival.  And be on the lookout for small-ish merch booths at the different gigs you attend.

It looks like a wabbit

It looks like a wabbit

Be a tourist, at least for a day. Iceland is gorgeous, there is a reason everyone freaks out about the volcanic valleys and waterfalls. Make sure to take some time to tour around. The Golden circle tour may seem to be too “touristy” but it’s not. It spans a great deal of distance, and the guides are chock-full of information.  It can all be done during the day so you can return in time for the night festivities no problem. One of my favorite new Icelandic travel blogs is I heart Reykjavik.  She has a very sweet and informative online presence, her Facebook page is entertaining and informative, and she offers daily walking tours around Reykjavik.  Be quick to reserve as she sells out rather quickly, I’ve yet to work one of her tours into my schedule when I’m there, but I’ve had plenty of people tell me how much they loved her.

And finally, It’s possible you may run into some of your favorite mythical Icelandic band members.  While telling the band thank you is typically appreciated, or casually chatting about this or that while in a queue, nobody likes a stalker.  Chasing them down the street screaming, or camping out waiting to catch a glimpse of avocados being peeled or coffee being consumed is just creepy and not the norm in Iceland.  It will make for really awkward situations, chances are if these guys are around, they want to listen and see the bands playing as well. It’s an island, not a zoo; and they are your concert going peers, not monkeys.

So, show up relaxed and ready to mingle, do your homework on what you want to see, and explore, this is the gist of it. It’s a fantastic festival put on by awesome folks.  I’ve yet to hear anyone ever say they won’t be trying their hardest to return the next year.

You can read about my previous re-caps of Iceland Airwaves here.  And you can see my photos from Last year’s festival here.  See you there!

 

 

Iceland Affair

Icelandaffair

In a small town nestled in the middle of Connecticut there resides a peculiar lady.  She raises bats, tends to porcupines, and single handedly puts on the second largest Icelandic festival in the U.S.  Gerri Griswald is her name, and Iceland Affair is her festival.  The festival will be happening October 18th in Winchester center, CT at the Winchester Grange.

Iceland affair began 5 years ago when Gerri decided to bring some of the acts that had entertained her travel guides in Iceland back to the states.  Relying on donations and a very forgiving husband, Gerri has been putting the festival on ever since slowly bringing more and more Icelandic talent stateside so that people who may not be able to make it to the island could experience it’s wonders here.

While some would be pleased with just a concert, Gerri has put together a day of presentations including Icelando-centric falconry, goat raising, ornithology, nature and geological talks.  As well as authors presenting on things such as the Icelandic sagas, and the history of Icelandic music. To learn more about the presenters, click the image below.

wwww

From left to right, Brian Bradley (Falconer), Dr. Gunni (Musician/author of Blue Eyed pop), Jóhanna Bergmann Þorvaldsdóttir (Goat farming and preservation), Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson (photographer, ornithologist), Jón Baldur Hlíðberg (Naturist, illustrator), Nancy Marie Brown (expert on the sagas, author), Tom Alena (Geologist, meteorologist, entertaining lecturer)

And of course, how could one celebrate Iceland without music.  The festival ends with the fire and ice music festival at Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  The concert consists of 5 well known Iceland artists, ranging from indie, to jazz and folk.

fire

From left to right, Svavar Knútur, Lay Low, Snorri Helgeson, Agnes Erna, Kristjana Stefánsdóttir, Myrra Rós, and Bjorn Thoroddsen.  Click on their names to learn more about them.  While the festival is free for the most part, the concert requires the purchase of tickets, which are selling out quickly, so learn more and get your’s here.

Ragnaarbastiaan.com and Theory of Whatever records are pleased to help out with this years festival, and even more pleased to be attending.  So if you’d like to learn more about Iceland, hear some fantastic Icelandic music, this is the festival for you.  For us it’s the perfect appetizer for the upcoming Iceland Airwaves.  Go to Iceland Affair to learn more including directions and places to stay while attending.  And we’ll see you there.