Monthly Archives: October 2013

Day 1

distantFMBelfast

Officially day one of Iceland Airwaves.  For me, it started with Vigri and ended with FM Belfast, and a lot in between.  I took a fair amount of pics, and instead of flooding my blog with them, I have created a set for Airwaves on my Flickr Account.

VigribandVigri’s off-venue set at Backpackers was a good way to start.   Now a 4 piece, they played some of their old catalog, and even with sustainability issues, the endured.  They mentioned a new album in the works, and played a few new tracks, most notable was the set ending “I Follow,” a longer track with a great build up and fantastic ending.

Kimonogroup

Next up was the Kimono off-venue show at Bar 11.  They also had a few new songs to try out on the crowd, there is more of an electronic element now and I quite like it.

They ended the set with a remixed extended version of Black.  and by remixed and extended, I mean Kjartan thundered away on drums for a very long time while Alison and Gylfi laughed about not playing.

Next up was Metz, I had gone outside for a brief minute after the Kimono show, and when I returned to see Metz the basement was so packed people were on the stairs huddled down trying to see.   Sitting outside I could hear them and it was nuts.  Luckily I got in to see the last track, and as people were being tossed up into the ceiling the band was sweatily bouncing around the stage.

After Metz, it was back upstairs to hear Kajak play.  Very energetic duo with keys and a Korg.  Trippy lyrics backed by dance and rock beats, the windows were rattling from all the energy.

This ended the off-venue part of the day for me, and it was time to quickly grab a Pylsa and head over to the YLJA gig.

DJFOGI went in the wrong door and ended up at DJ Flugvél og Geimskip’s show.  She was so happy and as I stayed for a few songs I couldn’t help but smile.  Very high pitched voice and dance beats, with fog and a rotating light ball, very creative and entertaining.

YLJA was next door.  A 5 piece consisting of 2 chanteuses surrounded by three talented guys.  Very soothing folk rock, and they played well together.

trouble

Next, after a brief musical intermission with friends, we headed off to see Þóranna Dögg Björnsdóttir.  It was a audio visual set with a large backdrop of morphing images combined with audio cues.  Relaxing and surreal.

stroffright

 

 

Stroff was next, these guys were on my list of bands to see.  Very 90’s west coast America feel to them and with only a few technical issues they played a great set at Amsterdam.

 

 

 

After Stroff back to Harpa we went, it was time to see FM Belfast, we were a bit late so we had to sit in the back of the crowd, but FM Belfast was doing what they do best, throwing a party.  Masses of people jumping up and down, in the photo above you can actually see the masses crouched down on their knees eagerly waiting for the band to cue them explode into dancing happiness.  There were streamers, confetti and sorts of mayhem.  They always seem to have a lot of fun, and they did not disappoint last night.

Advertisements

Airwaves pre-game

HarpaThe calm before the storm.  I arrived a day early for Airwaves to try and enjoy this wonderful city before the masses arrived.  The town has been busy in preparation, and after a brief morning walk I made it to Harpa to pick up my wrist band.

As usual, the weather changes in an instant,  for most of the day though it was clear skies with a little wind.  It seems to be the coldest Airwaves I’ve been to yet, but it’s not terribly cold…yet.

queueThe crowd actually wasn’t bad, and the Airwaves crew really have their business sorted, so getting banded and getting out was quick and painless.  I knew the schedule would be slim for the day so I took another long walk, got a beer at KEX, then headed over to Lucky Records to hear some pre-Airwaves off-venue gigs.

Lucky

Lucky records new location is pretty slick, they still have a great catalog of vinyl, and now with more space it’s easy to move around, even with bands taking up the front of the store.

They were one of the few pre-gaming, so after browsing I stuck around to hear some live music

 

Cell 7

 

Cell 7 was setting up.  It’s hip-hop from the 90’s, great lyrics and samples with a few guests to help in backing.  Even though the crowd was smallish, she kept us all engaged and interacting with her, it was a good way to start things off.

 

Camp_KLater in the evening, Camp Keighley played.  A six piece band with a unique groove, and tons of energy.  They really get into their music, and the crowd followed right behind them.  Besides, who doesn’t love bright red ties?

It was obvious crowds were moving into Reykjavik as the audience had grown from the afternoon performances.

 

Drive byNext up, and my final gig of the night was Boogie Trouble.  These guys, and gals, come highly recommended from the Icelandic music community, and a lot of locals showed up to hear them play.  Great funk twist with  a lot of disco.  Their lead singer is an awesome show-woman, and of course, there were crazy dancers at the front of audience absolutely in love with the band.  They did a Britney Spears cover that put the original to shame.

I highly recommend you check out Boogie Trouble’s full show later this week as the off-venue pre-game event was tight, and left us primed for the rest of the night.  These guys definitely deserve the praise the locals give them.

That was all for the pre-game, today the festival truly begins and the music roster is chocked full.  Enjoy everyone, be smart, be courteous, and listen away.

If you hear an Icelandic band you’re unfamiliar with, you can always look them up on my page here for links to their music and websites.

My top 10 must see bands for Iceland Airwaves 2013

blarghKraftwerk is headlining, Ólafur Arnalds is doing magical things with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, and Emiliana Torrini is going to charm our socks off.  But what about the other bands?  I’ve written tips for getting the most out of your Airwaves experience, I’ve posted all the Icelandic bands playing Airwaves with links to a plentiful supply of all their songs, and now, the top 10 bands you do not want to miss, in my humble opinion of course.  So give it a listen, keep updated by visiting Grapevine’s Airwaves blog, and plan plan plan.

Kimono:

I love this band, they skipped out last year, but I’m glad they are back and I can’t wait to hear the new stuff.  It is rumored there may be an electronic element sneaking into the set.  How to describe them, think modern Wire with a twist.  Prog-metal if you want to get all fancy and the like, or perhaps just don’t describe them and tell people to go and listen for their own damned selves.

Clicking the band name above will take you to my blog on them, they have one of the most extensive soundcloud pages you will find:

Apparat Organ Quartet:

Even with the missing member from last year’s festival, Apparat Organ Quartet consistently put on one of the best shows of the festival.  If you have never seen them play I highly suggest you do so as I’ve yet to hear anyone new to them dislike their sound.  Clicking on their name will take you to my blog post on them, and here is Konami:

FM Belfast:

Yes I saw them earlier this year, but in their native land this band really cranks out a party, it’s typical for other musicians to magically appear and dance on stage with them, and they are one of those bands that really gets the crowd going.  I’d suggest you go with clean underwear, as chances are you’ll be dancing in them by the end of their set.  Best gig I’ve seen was at the infamous NASA, hoping they try and top it this year.

Clicking on the name takes you to my blog post on them, and this olld video is still a favorite of mine:

In the Company of Men:

Diversity is key at this festival, and these bat-shit crazy monkeys really know how to throw down on stage.  It’s organized chaos and very Dillinger Escape Plan-ish.  Can’t wait to see them live.  The title above takes you to my blog-post for more info, and here’s a video

Samaris:

Recently signed to One Little Indian records, and with a new album comprised of their E.P’s, I’m very curious to hear how they sound live.

Zola Jesus:

On Sacred Bones Records, Zola Jesus never fails to amaze.  She’s a force to be reckoned with and her hauntingly good music is going to be a treat for the Icelandic scene.

Ghostigital:

Seriously, if you haven’t seen these guys play, make this a priority.  Curver and Einar örn are staples and their show is awesome crazy.  I try to see them whenever I can, they have crazy instruments, a crazy leader, and a baby blue trumpet.  How could you not want to see it

Oyama:

A band of many bands, Oyama’s roster includes members from a lot of other bands you will hear this week.  They put on a great show, and you do not want to miss it.  Click the band name for my blog post on them, and listen here:

Amiina:

Amiina never fails, with their creative implementation of items as instruments, haunting voices, and endless supplies of charm you really need to take a breathe and take in an Amiina gig.

Lay Low:

Nancy Sinatra and June Carter apparently had a love child when we weren’t looking.  If her song writing and soothing voice doesn’t get you, her snake charming personality will.  Doesn’t matter if she’s in front of a massive crowd, or singing for 5 people in a shack smack dab in the middle of Reykjavik, she is definitely someone you want to experience while at the festival.  She has a slew of new songs, and I’m excited to hear them.  You’re absolutely NOT going to hate her.

Ok, I’ve got to stop, I promised myself only 10.  But it was a tough choice as there are plenty of other acts worthy of mention.  Dikta, Tilbury, Pétur Ben, Moses Hightower, Mammut, Momentum, Hudson Wayne etc..etc… Nini Wilson is also a band you should look out for.  I’m not going to spoil it, but they consist of members from other well known Icelandic bands.

I’m going to be blogging every morning after the festival, and I hope to see you up there.

Sigur Rós in New Orleans

SR

Here we go Sigur Rós in New Orleans.  For me, gig number 3 of this tour, gig number 123 for the band,  This tour has really been exciting for me, having been to every tour they’ve done stateside since 2002, and catching them at Airwaves last year, the new catalog of songs mixed with the occasional old track really have brought back that old time excitement.

georg

Many factors made me question how the concert was going to turn out.  It had been raining buckets earlier in the day, and with temps in the upper 80’s the afternoon felt like a sauna.  Also, we were two days away from Tropical Storm Karen’s appearance so the wind and weather were unpredictable.  But as the evening rolled around the weather mellowed out and it turned out to be a fantastic night for an outdoor gig, with only a sprinkle of moisture towards the end.

The band came out, and with a lot of action from the fog machines, began the show.  Even with a smaller than usual backdrop, and playing to a concrete jungle surrounded by sports paraphernalia, the band squashed any concern one may have had, and did I mention they did it with fog?

jonsi

Julianna Barwick opened the concert, which sadly due to pre-concert logistics I missed.  But after a brief wait Jónsi, Georg, Orri, Kjartan(Holm), óbó and the Okkr Ensemble took the stage.  Even with the standard set list, every Sigur Rós show is slightly different.  They feed off the crowd, and it’s rare to find someone who isn’t captivated by some part of the concert.

I was glad to hear Rafstramur added into the mix and as is typical with Sigur Rós tracks, the live version breathed it’s own fire and was it’s own beast.  Festival is a track everyone should experience more than once.  The first time you hear it you will feel entranced and will focus all your attention forward as it comes to it’s climatic point.  The second or third time, you get to watch others experience it for their first.  It truly is an incredible song to experience live.

The set list was:

Yfirborð  Ξ Brennisteinn Ξ Vaka Ξ Glósóli Ξ Hrafntinna Ξ Stormur Ξ Saeglopur

orri

varuð Ξ Hoppí + Með Blóð Ξ Rafstraumur Ξ Kveikur Ξ Festival Ξ Popplagið

As if there isn’t enough intensity from the music alone, the band’s visual team never fail.  Even with a smaller screen in New Orleans, the vivid cinematography combined with intricate interactions to the stage lights and  band themselves really help deliver an all encompassing experience.  It’s only fitting that the team recently won the Knights of Illumination award for best lighting and video.  Sarah Hopper and Damian Hale have created backdrops of strangers on a mountain signalling to the lights surrounding the band, nuclear missile explosions, strobing lighthouses, serene oceanic scenes, and close-ups of the band members themselves jamming away, all mixing with Bruno Poet’s lighting show.  The imagery is never overpowering, but synced perfectly with the music enhancing the experience, and these guys truly deserve that award.

Another great tour, and they continue to prove they are a band everyone should, needs to see once in their lives.  I highly suggest seeing them this tour as you never know when they’ll be back.  All photos on this page were taken by me, if you’d like to see others, they are located on my Flickr Account, here for the New Orleans gig, and Here for the Boston/New York concert.

Snorri Helgason

snorrippp

I’ve always talked of the hard work Icelandic musicians put into their craft.  Snorri Helgason is the personification of this.  He tours more than humanly possible, constantly collaborates with other Icelandic musicians, and has been been part of programs such as Taste of Iceland and Iceland Airwaves every year.  He works hard, very hard, and we the listener are the benefactors.

Snorri’s career started with his band, Sprengjuhöllin.  They released three great albums, all of which won awards and were well received by the Icelandic public, including one single that lasted 27 weeks in Iceland’s music charts.

Continuing to evolve, he released his first solo album I’m gonna put my name on your door which was also well received.   Ironically, the title track from the album speaks of settling down, quite the opposite direction Snorri has taken, and combined with the final track When a good thing dies, the audience is left somewhat misled about the future of Snorri Helgason.

The album itself is smooth; perfect for a rainy day or relaxing road trips.  Reminiscent of Nick Cave and Harry Nillson his ability to modernize that 70’s soulful folk makes for an enjoyable album trip, one of my favorite songs on the album is Don’t let her.

Next came Winter’s sun.  This is my favorite of his albums to date.  There are hints of 50’s rock and soul on tracks such as 99 songs, and splotches of blues on The Butcher’s Boy.   Spending time in Iceland during a Christmas break, Snorri was playing music with Sindri Már Sigfússon from Sin Fang and they decided to put an album together.  With Sindri producing and Snorri playing the album is a perfect of example of adding more without adding too much.  Vocals are more sharp and energized, there are more instruments, and more people backing him up, such as Mr. Silla from Múm, and Sóley.

One of my favorite tracks from Winter’s sun, Mockingbird, reminds me of a Motown era jam.  Very smooth, with a rock influenced beat underneath lullaby vocals backed up in a do-wappish manner.

Recently released, Snorri’s new album, Autumn skies keeps the strong instruments, but from the two tracks available to stream, the vocals have slightly shifted back towards the mellow smooth folk of the first album.  I particularly like the sound of Kveðja.  You can listen to both new tracks, as well as a slew of his back catalog on his Soundcloud page.  You can purchase the new Autumn Skies CD from the Record Records music shop, and his previous two albums are on Gogoyoko for listening or purchase pleasure.

To learn more and keep up with him, visit his website or Facebook page.  He’ll be performing at Iceland Airwaves this year and he always puts on a fantastic show, I suggest you check it out.