Tag Archives: 2013

Airwaves ’13 recap part 1-The new

blackwhiteairwaves

Pétur Ben at KEX

Now for the recap on Airwaves, Yes initially I was going to do a day by day, yes I was ambitious.  No, after day 1, it didn’t happen.  So, I am going to do a couple blog posts on stuff that was new to me, and stuff I dug.

To start off, Kudos to the Iceland Airwaves staff and crew.  This was the smoothest I’ve seen it run, and I really appreciate how much help they are, even to us small potatoes that dig music and blog about it out of fun and not as our careers.  So, thank you guys for another great year.

As with all 5 years that I’ve attended, there was good, and there was notsogood.  The high points out numbered the rare low points and it’s easy to call this my favorite music festival of the year.

One of the highlights was the off-venue schedule being added to the app.  It really made picking a band during the middle of the day a lot easier, and if the off-venue performance you wanted was too crowded, it was easy to pick something else.  And this year that became more important than in the past, as it seemed the off venues were packed almost all the time, and quick changes of plans were necessary.

DJFOG

DJ. flugvél og geimskip

My goal was to focus on Icelandic bands that I had not heard before, I relied heavily on the suggestions other Icelandic musicians and friends, and regardless of their genre I made an attempt to see them play.  I did make an exception to my rule in order to see Zola Jesus, FM Belfast, and John Grant.  But all the other bands on my schedule were Icelandic, and/or bands I had seen once or twice.  And with over 200 of them rarely did I have a time where I couldn’t find something to see.

Top 3 new bands I had not seen before were Boogie Trouble, Oyama, and Hudson Wayne. Oyama was on my list based on the blog I did about them, and Boogie trouble was a must see, as a lot of Icelandic friends and musicians recommended I not miss their gig.

Boogie Trouble at Hressó

Boogie trouble’s upbeat music came in second only to their lead singers energy and charisma.  She was laughing, dancing around the place, and the entire band jammed away at both gigs I attended.  Two entirely different crowds for those shows, and yet the band created the same party like atmosphere in both situations.  They played the first day I was in town at Lucky Records, and again at Hressó near the end of the festival.  Well worth the recommends they received, and their cover of Britney Spear’s Toxic is not to be missed.

While so called “shoe-gazing” music isn’t typically my jam, I was excited to see Oyama, as I like the music I’ve heard and was interested to see how their live show would turn out.  I also saw Oyama twice, once in front of the 12 Tónar shop at Harpa, and once at the Amsterdam bar the last night of Airwaves.

Oyama rockin the walls of Harpa

Oyama rockin the walls of Harpa

The off-venue gig at Harpa turned scandalous, as the band was just too wild and crazy for the stone cold walls, and as their music filled the event hall, it breached the serenity of the Ólafur Arnalds Symphony experience, causing a panicked man to whisper pleas into Úlfur’s ear to stop briefly to allow the symphony to end in peace.  Ok, not that dramatic, but the band did have to stop briefly, you can read more about it here.

Oyama at Amsterdam

Oyama at Amsterdam

At both sets the band played energetically and together, the smaller set at Harpa was definitely more mellow than the on-venue set at Amsterdam.  And at the Amsterdam set I was really impressed with Júlía, who obviously was having issues with her voice, and yet it came out strong, non-wavering, and almost pitch perfect the entire set.  the Amsterdam set was more rowdy, and there was nothing shoe-gazing about the guitar and bass trio break-down during one of their first few songs.  I highly enjoyed the new tracks they premiered during their set.

Hudson Wayne at Iðnó

Hudson Wayne at Iðnó

Hudson Wayne gets a golden star as being one of the only bands I’ve ever heard at Iðnó where I thought the sound quality was great.  They were so spot on it would be hard to believe they were Icelanders and not from the Mid Western part of the U.S.   They appeared to be having almost more fun than the audience.  So, aside from the over-priced beer at Iðnó, I stayed the entire set and really enjoyed myself.  Was very glad to finally hear them play.

Petur Ben

Pétur Ben at KEX

I’ve seen Pétur Ben perform before, but not the newer darker catalog he has, and not with a full band.  So it was great to make it to Kex and hear him play full on.  Even though the new album is quite a bit darker, the music came off strong and I really dug the new live tracks.

Once again, Kex Hostel had KEXP hanging around, doing live streams of the music during the entire festival.  If you want to hear the live sets they recorded, I suggest heading over here to give them a listen.  They all work incredibly hard every year exposing new acts and bringing music from Iceland to the United States.

Samaris

Samaris

Sadly, the one set of new artists that turned out not so well was the Samaris show at Gamli Bio.  There were massive tech issues from the beginning, and the band looked really out of sorts and discombobulated in their performance.  I wish I could have seen them at another gig, as I was really excited to catch their act.  So until I do see them again, I am holding off judgement on their live act.

Nini Wilson at Harpa

Nini Wilson at Harpa

Last but not least by any means, another great new band was Nini Wilson.  Comprised of Örn Ingi Ágústsson from Seabear on guitar, Árni Vilhjálmsson of FM Belfast doing vocals and guitar, and Björn Stefánsson on drums.  Their music was made public only days before the festival, and yet there still was a near full venue waiting to hear what they had to offer.  After taking a moment to relax via a bottle of Lavender oil, which they passed around for the crowd to inhale, Nini Wilson began a very tight set of Folk-ish rock, moving through the set entertaining themselves and the audience with quips about being naked, not being naked and of course, a few rock guitar solos intermixed.  Very entertaining and I wish the set had been longer as it was one of the more enjoyable ones of the festival.  Can’t wait to hear what else they have in store.

You can click any picture above to see my entire photo set from Airwaves this year.

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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.

Iceland Airwaves 2013

Typically I stay away from categorizing bands, as I find the lengths some people go to box a band in silly. But now that the final list of bands for Iceland Airwaves 2013 is out, I wanted to make an easier way for you to learn more about, and listen to the Icelandic bands that will be performing.

Of the 216 or so bands at this year’s Airwaves, 150 of them are Icelandic. With everything from a national symphony to death metal, electro-pop to hip-hop, you’re pretty much covered with things to listen to.

So, I have very loosely divided the bands into 5 different groups. Hip Hop, Composers and classical, Hardcore and all the metals, Electronic/Dance/close-to-dance, and the last, but definitely, largest group I will just call rock+, it consists of reggae, funk, blues, rock, harder rock, indie-er rock etc..etc…

As anyone can look up a band’s website, I had a process for picking which links to use. If I’ve written a piece on them the link will take you to that blog post. If not and they have a Gogoyoko or Soundcloud page, the link will take you there. After that it’s either their website or facebook page. I believe most the bands will take you to a page where you can stream at least some of their music.

If you don’t have a Gogoyoko account yet, I strongly urge you to get one. It’s free, and you can create your own playlists to share what you find, but more importantly, a great deal of the bands linked via gogoyoko have their own playlists making it easier for you to hear the songs they really like from all their albums. Like I said, it’s free and takes little to no time to sign up, so just do it. Think of it as an Icelandic Spotify account that actually gives back to the artist.

After the list of bands you will find both the Spotify and the Soundcloud playlists for all Airwaves artists. And, clicking here will take you to the full Schedule so schedule away.

If I’ve missed a band, or you feel strongly that a band should be classified differently let me know. And now, for your researching and listening pleasure, here are the bands, in order from smallest to largest table:

Hip Hop

Cell7 Emmsje Gauti Epic Rain Kött Grá Pje
Original Melody Ramses Ulfur Ulfur

Classical/Composers

Biggi Hilmars Daníel Bjarnason Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Jónas Sen Nordic Affect Skuli Sverrisson
Þóranna Dögg Björnsdóttir AKA Trouble Úlfur Eldjárn Saktmodigur

Hardcore / Metals

Æla Agent Fresco AMFJ Angist
Blood Feud Dimma Endless Dark In the Company of Men
Kimono Kontinuum Momentum Muck
Ophidian I Sign Skepna Sólstafir
Strigaskór Nr 42 Svartidauði Trust the Lies Wistaria

Electronic / Experimental / Dance

Apparat Organ Quartet Árni² Aux Pan Berndsen
Björk Viggósdóttir A.K.A. Lala Alaska Bloodgroup Captain Fufanu DJ AnDre
DJ Flugvél og Geimskip FKNHNDSM FM Belfast FutureGrapher
Ghostigital Gluteus Maximus Hermigervill Housekell
Kajak Kippi Kaninus Kira Kira Legend
M-Band Magnoose Nolo Nora
Oculus Pedro Pilatus Prins Polo Quadruplos
Oculus Reptilicus Sísý Ey Skurken
Sometime Subminimal Sykur Tanya & Marlon
Terrordisco ThiZone Tonik Vök

Rock / Indie Rock / Reggae / Blues / funk / etc..etc…

1860 Amaba Dama Amiina Árstíðir
Aragrúi Ásgeir Bárujárn Bellstop>
Benny Crespo’s Gang Bob Justman/a Boogie Trouble Borko
Caterpillarmen Dikta Dísa Eldar
Elín Ey Emiliana Torrini Fears For a minor reflection
Gang Related Grísalappalísa Grúska Babúska Halleluwah
Hellvar Hjaltalín Hudson Wayne Hymnalaya
Jan Mayen Hjaltalín Jóhann Kristinsson John Grant
Kaleo Kiriyama Family Kjurr Lára Rúnars
Lay Low Leaves Lockerbie Loji
Love & Fog MAMMÚT Mono Town Moses Hightower
múm Nini Wilson Ólafur Arnalds Nolem
Ojba Rasta My Bubba Myrra Rós Oyama
Pascal Pinon Pétur ben Ragga Gröndal Retro Stefson
RetRoBot Rökkurró Runar Magnusson Samaris
Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band Sin Fang</a Sindri Eldon & The Ways Snorri Helgason
Sóley Stafrænn Hákon Stroff The Wicked Strangers
Þórir Georg Tilbury UMTBS Útidúr
Valdimar Vigri Valdimar Vintage Caravan YLJA

,
and here is their Spotify playlist:

3rd Airwaves announcement

What a loverly thing to wake up to. A new email from Airwaves announcing more 30 more bands for the festival of which 22 are Icelandic. Ólöf Arnalds, Retro Stefson, Amiina, Moses Hightower, Apparat Organ Quartet, Árstíðir, Kiriyama Family, Skúli Sverrisson, Hermigervill, Captain Fufanu, Sign, Stafrænn Hákon, Leaves, Endless Dark, Nóra, 1860, Dimma, Auxpan, Þórir Georg, Emmsjé Gauti, Kjurr and Nini Wilson.

I have been rather busy with a move, and now an injury, but I truly am hoping in the upcoming week I can get a handle on the massive amount of write ups I need to cover. So stay tuned, and until then, you can read my write ups on FM Belfast, Apparat Organ Quartet, and of course there are more write ups on my Iceland Airwaves page.

AMFJ

AMFJ

Monks done got dark, that’s the first thing that came to mind on my virgin listen to AMFJ. With dark, heavy and industrial instrumentals topped with AMFJ blasting over the top with aggressive high energy rants, creating powerfully violent noise rock.

AMFJ is one man, Aðalsteinn Jörundsson, and his project began in 2008.  Just him, some loops and a lot of feedback smothered  with powerful and aggressive vocals that bounce and shock the beats,  akin to a defibrillator being applied one’s heart.  He has an ability to take the mundane and turn it into something darkly evocative.

For me, AMFJ’s newest album, Bæn, really encompasses his back catalog well.  There are definitely different and new sounds involved, but you get an overall feel for where he’s going and what he’s doing with the tracks.  It’s heavy, and the industrial/rock feel reminds me of post 80’s Ministry.  One of my favorite tracks is Klasar:

Other tracks such as Eg er Guð, to me, sounds akin to benedictine monks waking up on the wrong side of the wooden floor.

Gigs with AMFJ contain a lot of strobes, with a man front and center usually in a tank top blasting into a mic while twisting and toggling nobs and widgets creating dark loops and echoes.  From what I’ve read, sets tend to be intense and just under and hour.

Another great thing about AMFJ, he’s a fair play artist at Gogoyoko.  Meaning he’s allowed Gogoyoko to donate 10% or more of his album sales to the 5 charities Gogoyoko supports.  So I highly suggest listening and purchasing his stuff from them.

AMFJ will be playing Iceland Airwaves and I highly suggest you check him out.   You can find him on Gogoyoko and Facebook, he was kind enough to answer my 4 questions and here are his answers:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  1. My favorite off venue to play at would be Mjódd. It’s a bus station way up in Breiðholt. I played there last year and it was so refreshing to play for people who would have otherwise never heard of you. Everyday normal commuters on their way home. Bleakly standing around, exhausted after a long week at the grind. Seemingly not caring for the music very much but stayed inside the station anyway, probably because of the storm outside. Then one guy came up to me after the set, said he loved it and bought my cd and gave me beer can from the bag of multible sixpacks he was bringing home to drown his sorrows in. Said he was going to give it a good listen when he’d get home. I’m was very glad to provide the soundtrack for his miserable evening.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  I like primary colours. Colours that make other colours, but can also just stand on their own and be them selves. I don’t have any idea how to blend them and I don’t understand how people can come up with weird colour names such as razzmatazz. I think that’s just people desperately trying to make their lives more interesting but are looking in the wrong places. I like red. if I mix other colors into it, it would probably be a different kind of red. But still red.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?   Jóhann Eiríksson an electronic musician who’s been around experimenting with noises and field recordings since the late 80’s. He’s behind acts such as Reptilicus and Gjöll and is probably the most underrated artist of our country. I have never met anyone who has such deep understanding of how sound works and what can be done with it.

Norn a black-metal crust band that have been kicking ass lately. They bring a healthy
joyful attitude to a genre that isn’t known for having much sense of humor about them selves. They are working on an album these days and Krakkkbot, another great electronic musician you should know about – is dubbing over it some bone crushing noises to crust things up even further.

Logn Young guys who play fast and furious. Extremely refreshing fury in the midst of all the market friendly cuteness that plagues the scene these days.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.   A Sloth, playing Last Dream of Jesus by Haus Arafna

Oyama

oyama2
Oyama was everywhere at Airwaves 2012, I believe they gigged every day. Very hard workers especially when you consider the band members are from a lot of other Icelandic bands. Úlfur Alexander from Fist Fokkers, Swords of Chaos, and Útidúr. Kári Einarsson from Fist Fokkers. Rúnar Örn Marinósson from Me, the Slumbering Napoleon.  Júlia Hermannsdóttir from We Painted the Walls, and Berger Anderson from Just another Snake Cult and Sudden Weather Change.  (You can go here for my post on Sudden Weather Change.) For as calm and soothing as Oyama’s music is, the members themselves are a tornado of musical activity.

I’ve never gotten used to the term shoe-gaze pop. As this type of music makes me feel more like watching a kaleidoscope projector on my ceiling nestled in my over-sized beanbag than staring at my shoes.  Either way Oyama’s album, I wanna” makes you just want to kick back and float away while gazing at ceilings, shoes, or just into space.  Great beats that keep your attention from straying while vocals float over the top grabbing you and bringing you up there with them.  One of my favorite tracks on the album is Sometimes:

A lot of the album reminds me of a very young Spaceman 3/Spiritualized, especially the track Sometimes.  Oyama is excellent at producing harmonized vocals that drift over a very spacey set of instruments without sounding too washed out.  They have a great way of crossing over and mixing their male and female vocal set to create not so much a duet, but a singular stream of interchangeable notes, most noticed on Wasted (Dinosaur).

Oyama will be at Airwaves again in 2013.  I suggest you check them out.  To keep up to date with the band, their tumblr is here, their Facebook here, and of course you can find them on Gogoyoko.  Júlía and Berger were extremely kind and went to great detail in their answers to my four questions, and here they are:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic  joint to jam at?

Júlía: Kex hostel and Stúdentakjallarinn fed us good food, plus they are out-of-control trendy places that make anyone who enters (= me) seem hip just by existing within that context (Stúdentakjallarinn has an entire wall of live vegetation).

Bergur: The whole atmosphere surrounding the off-venue program of Iceland Airwaves is fascinating. I love how unformal they all are, really nice plug and play concerts, preferably at venues like Bíó Paradís, Bar 11 or Kex Hostel. Stúdentakjallarinn is also very good, a new venue that actually feeds bands that perform there!

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

Júlía: I keep a running list of all my favorite colors with me (on my phone) at all times. I wish I were making this up. The list goes: eggplant, egg yolk, duck egg, neon green, hunter green, salmon, light pink, lilac, peridot, pale blue, royal blue, navy, mauve, cream, oatmeal, light grey, bright yellow, true red, red orange, burgundy, gold, silver

Bergur: I like most colors that relate to autumn; brown, mustard-brown, moss-green, and then some black and white… They all look good together in layers, but super-mundane if you’d mix them together.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?

Júlía: I’m gonna say The Heavy Experience, Nolo and Samaris. Samaris are pretty well known already but fuck it, I just wanna namedrop all my biggest favesies.

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

Júlía: I’m a lemur playing Krawtwerk’s Computer Love
Bergur: A Koalabear playing bass on Darondo´s “Didnt I”

So, give them a listen and some attention.  They are another example of great Icelandic musicians coming together to create their own type of music.  Also, You can also see my other posts on Icelandic bands that will be at Airwaves ’13 here.

Momentum

momentum
Momentum’s roots are in black/death heavy metal and consists of Kristján on Drums, Sigurður for Guitar/Vocals, Hörður with Vocals/Bass, and Ingvar on Guitar/Vocals.  They are one of my favorite metal bands from Iceland, and I am looking forward to catching them at Airwaves 2013.

When describing metal everyone has a word for this and that.  Call it what you will, I find them to be akin to metal such as Envy and Isis.  Their songs are well produced, and progressively send you through epic journeys of heavy, soft and complex arrangements.  Instead of one song, I would highly suggest you take 15 minutes and listen to my favorite E.P. of theirs.  The Requiem.  It’s one of 2 E.Ps they have available.  There is also their full length, Fixation, at rest.  Check out As the skies break, one of my favorite tracks on the album. Enjoy the delightful music montage of As the skies break being performed live.

They have a new album soon to be released, titled “The freak is alive” and you can hear the title track here.  The band was kind enough to answer my four questions, so here they be:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  Our favorite icelandic joint is probably the one in our fans pocket.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  A sausage wearing a bandana.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Difficult choice since there are so many but Plastic Gods, Two Tickets to Japan, Muck

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  We would definitely be a Manbear Pig playing Brown Shoes Don’t Make it.

So yes, there is going to be metal at Airwaves, and very good metal such as these guys.  You can find them on Facebook, and of course Gogoyoko. So give ’em a listen and look for them at Airwaves.