So now that I’ve covered the new bands I was excited to see, and the bands I always look forward to seeing, I can discuss the rest of the festival. This year there was a lot of Pylsa eating, beer and vodka consumption, and Northern lights! until this last trip, I have never seen the Northern lights, so this definitely was a treat, and one I actually just enjoyed, without snapping a pic.
Really, there were only two non-Icelandic must sees for me, Anna Von Hausswolff and Zola Jesus. I went out of my way to make sure I was going to see both, and with the packed crowd I lucked out that Samaris was right before the Anna Von Hausswolff show at Gamla Bíó. Anna Von Hausswollf, put on an incredibly haunting performance. she and the band with their intense harmonization and emotional drumming was just as amazing as I expected. The venue was so packed I was surprised NOT to see people hanging from the rafters, but I may have missed them from not being able to look up for fear of stepping on someone below. It certainly was packed, and the onslaught of photographers in the beginning did not help with the crowded situation.
And this brings up one of the few issues I had with Airwaves this year, the aggressive photographers. Not all were this aggressive, but there were a few who went completely overboard to get a pretty picture. I applaud the quick and stern email Airwaves sent out after this reminding photographers that the festival is for all people attending, not just the press, and that it was absolutely not OK to use a flash directly into the face of performers, but until this email, it was common to see this happening to artists and the crowd:
This picture was the beginning of the Show, as you can see, even the artist is flinching away from the insanely close use of a flash, and the amount of people using it. And unfortunately, if you were in the first couple of rows, a line of photog-ass was your view. The lighting made for a tough show to shoot, But as this picture shows, these guys were insane with trying and they continued through almost two complete songs. Stopping only after a certain fan of Anna’s, out of awe of her music I’m sure, climbed on stage and proclaimed her love for the music by laying down right next to Anna’s keys and flashing metal signs.
Kimono, oh dear sweet Kimono. I admit, I saw them three times in total. First show was Bar 11 before Metz, second at Gamli Gaukurinn, and I saw half of their final set at Lucky Records the next day. Kimono are an old staple in Iceland, one could argue they’ve influenced a lot of music in their time, so it was great to see them live again.
Their gigs certified they still have it. Heavy instrumentation, with just ever-so-slightly aggressive vocals trudging through the the set. The band was kind enough to play my favorite song, The Wire (I’m sure it was all for me) at all three gigs, and someone paid tribute to Alison’s paying tribute at Anna Von Haussenwolffs performance at Gamli Gaukurinn by laying down center stage and flashing metal signs while soaking in Kimono’s heavy beats.
They also introduced a few new tracks that they have been working on, including a dance number, well as dance number as Kimono can get, Think a modern Les Savy Fav. It excites me that they are working on new stuff. These guys are another band that personifies the Icelandic music culture. They’ve been playing for well over a decade, and as dedicated and serious as they are about their task, they still take the time to have fun on stage, and they also display that natural ability to include the audience in that fun, cracking jokes, heckling back and just overall having a good time playing music they love. And they have no fear about working on new stuff that may differ from the old. It’s an epic work ethic they have, and I’m all the more excited about it.
And of course, Zola Jesus. She came to Iceland with a brand new band. If she hadn’t told the audience they were new, I don’t think we would have noticed as they played a wonderful set at Gamla Bíó. Zola was full of her typical energy and after jumping off stage barefoot, she spent a good time serenading audience members, jumping on chairs, and whipping her mic chord around barriers like a seasoned cowboy lassoing a bull. As I’m a bit biased when it comes to Zola concerts, it was good to read that not just I was impressed with her set. I’m glad Iceland got to see her.
Really, there is so much more one could write about, and there are so many more pics that I could share. Iceland Airwaves yet again delivered a fantastic festival and Iceland proved to be the ever amazingly Martha Stewart of sovereign hosts.
If you want to know about how a band you dug did, the Grapevine blogged about EVERY on-venue show this year on their Airwaves dedicated blog space. Their presence and that blog were an amazing thing this year and a great addition to the festival experience, maybe I’m just partial because they flattered me by publishing my blog/article on supporting the local Icelandic musicians, but no, it’s an extremely well put together blog about the festival over all, and you have to give Grapevine major props for the hard work they put into it. You can see all my photos from Iceland Airwaves here, or by clicking on one of the pictures above.
It’s weird to end a blog post without my four weird questions, so I leave you with one of them, answered while some mocking was being done about the questions I ask, by Kjartan from For a Minor Reflection:
What animal would you be, and what song would you sing? A raccoon, because raccoons are the coolest animal.. And Total eclipse of the heart, because that would be the coolest song for a raccoon to sing…..