Tag Archives: FM Belfast

Iceland Airwaves recap part 2 – annual fun and off-venue

There are certain bands and events that have become staples of Iceland Airwaves for me.  I almost look just as forward to these events as I do the festival itself.

Off venue performances are key to the daytime schedule.  Scaled down and sometimes more intimate; these performances happen in record shops, coffee houses and even retail outfits playing to the street.  Available to everyone in Reykjavik, not just the wristbanded folk, it’s a good opportunity to see the bands play smaller sets.  This year there were over 200 Icelandic artists playing the approximate 650 performances.

Pétur hallgrimsson and John Grant at Kvosin

Pétur hallgrimsson and John Grant at Kvosin

I caught a laid back John Grant set.  John Grant is a big sweetheart so seeing him at an off venue is made even more special as his quick wit and charming demeanor really shine.  His keyboardists was sick for the performance so it was just him and Pétur on stage.  That strong baritone voice that could melt rock combined with Pétur’s extremely talented guitar made the Kvosin basement show fantastic.  We even got a teaser off the new album as during a keyboard snafu, he made up a new tune about evening time murders and broken keyboards.

Einar Örn getting in the ring at HarpaI also caught Ghostigital at an off-venue event.  I fucking love this band, consisting of Einar Örn Benediktsson of Sugarcubes, and Curver Thoroddson, an amazing mixer who has worked with bands such as Kimono and Sigur Rós, these two always put on amazingly chaotic shows.  Every year Einar Örn is in rare form precisely spazzing out with a microphone, ranting about being alone and fuzzy televisions, all while Curver is at the helm tweaking knobs and distorting the mic making a perfect concoction of organized and blissful chaos.

curver Thoroddson tweaking knobsThe gig happened at the top Harpa with the sun setting through the prisms of glass while Einer Örn began in a mexican wrestling mask that was quickly shaken off revealing a face with multitudes of expression topping off their quick but potent set.  I’m pretty sure everyone walked away very satisfied they saw them, I definitely was.

Another band I always seek out is FM Belfast.  Over the years they have become more and more known to the world off the Iceland rock, and their shows are energetic interactions.  Árni, Lóa and crew really know how to throw a party, and this year was no exception.  From making 500+ people crouch on their knees mid set, to streamers and a pre-emptive depanting on stage, these guys know how to include the audience in on all the fun.

Entire Harpa audience on the ground

I was really impressed with Árni Vilhjálmsson this year as he brought that ability to naturally interact with the audience to both Nini Wilson and FM Belfast.  With two completely different bands and atmospheres, his natural ability to break down that performer/audience barrier is spectacular.

Æla is another guilty pleasure of mine.  And as of yet, they’ve never disappointed.Æla  Typically cross-dressed, they are a band that definitely could not do a super bowl halftime event.  Copious amounts of nipple slippage, riding on the backs of the crowd as they sing away, and tux stripping to reveal a dress-clad singing member are all standard fair at an Æla gig.

at one point in the night, the band declared their love for, and pleaded for all the homosexuals in the crowd to come dance with them at the front of the stage.  Æla is fun and reminds me of the ole punk-rock standard of just rock out with your cock….

There is another festival that runs parallel to Airwaves, and it was at Bravó this year.  RafWaves is the love child of Ísar Logi Arnarsson and this year with over 30 local artists and DJ’s spread over two nights it was a great way to fill in and end both nights.  If the crowds get to be too much for you on the main drag and you just want to let your hair down and dance, I suggest you check out their website and plan to attend next year.

yet again, these annual performances did not disappoint.  the off-venue crowds were quite a bit larger this year, so I did have to miss a few performances I would have liked to have seen.  But over all my list was checked off and I didn’t go without at any point.

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.

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.

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.

FM Belfast live at Great Scott Feb 28, 2013

fmbelf

As it’s somewhat of a rarity to see Icelanders gracing our Boston stages and bars, I thought I would write a quick review of FM Belfast’s concert at Great Scott last night, Feb 28th 2013.  The gig got off to a late start, and as people drifted in YDIMITU began their heavy beats hidden behind two massive strobing LED blocks set to retina destruction level.  Next, the ever cheerful keys duo Child Actor took the stage and played to a still increasing dance floor crowd.

With slightly less than 200 people in attendance, FM Belfast came out to stage with full force AND Mexican party favors:

pineapple

Instantly the floor of adults became partiers and the fun began.  Dancing on an amazingly small stage for 5 people, only a foot up above the crowd, Árni, Lóa, and crew had the audience crouching low, jumping high, and bouncing around every which way ‘til Sunday.  It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen an American adult audience be so alive and it was refreshing.

jump

 

“Are you ready to jump!?” Shouts Árni just before the instruments kick in and a sound wave of music blasts over a very hyper audience.  I’ve seen many shows at Great Scott, but never have I began wondering just how much more the floor could flex before it might give in.

 

I wish I had a setlist for you, but I didn’t think about writing a review until this morning, so I am unprepared.  All the classics were hit as well as a good amount of stuff from the new album.  And of course, the band did underwear, and lost their pants in the process. There was blending of songs, and improvised extensions to allow the audience to dance even longer. The only song not played I would have liked to have heard was Tropical.

But it truly was a fantastic show, made slightly cooler by the smaller, very excited crowd.  You can check out my blog post on FM Belfast, which includes links to stream their albums as well as links to all their pages here. And you can catch FM Belfast live at the Studio at Webster Hall on March 3rd.

Thank you FM Belfast for a great night!

2nd Iceland Airwaves Roster update

Well folks, the second batch O’bands has been announced for Iceland Airwaves 2013.  Múm (pronounced Moom) will be there, as well as Sin Fang, pronounced Sinn Faiinnnng, Bloodgroup (pronounced giddy) and Metz (pronounced with a silent Q).  To see the line-up so far click here.

And, if you’re in the Boston area, remember that FM Belfast is playing at Great Scott tomorrow, Feb 28th, at Great Scott in Allston.  It’s $12 or so, and well worth it.

Menu

Iceland Airwaves 2016

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