Tag Archives: Iceland Airwaves

Day 4 of Iceland Airwaves

Day 4 of Iceland Airwaves.  A little crazy with the schedule but I managed bounce to and from different venues and at least see all I wanted to see, and I managed to photograph most of it as well.

Started off with Kælan Mikla which was followed by the legendary Dr. Gunni.  Then we moved across town to see Mr. Silla perform before crossing back to a very packed dj. flugvél og geimskip set which was followed by Árni².  Árni² is Árni Valur and Árni Grétar, both legends in their musical fields here in Iceland and they did not disappoint.   Then quickly after that I went to see Kontinuum, but there was no possibility of getting close enough to photograph and after their set I finished the night watching Milkywhale.  I may be biased, but I honestly thought the shiny new floor at Iðnó was going to break from all the jumping and mass partying that went on for that gig.  At least the floor is well worn in now.

Here are the pics:

mrsilla (12 of 12)


Day 3 of Iceland Airwaves

Day 3 was delightfully long.  Started off with Speciak-K then Pink Street Boys followed by Jae Tyler, moving then to Pinegrove, and then Arab Strap and finally finishing the night in an insane hour long party known as FM Belfast.

Pics are a bit FM Belfast heavy, but that’s because every second they are playing there is something incredible to try and capture on camera, even their end of show bow.  Click here or the picture to see day 3 photos:

FMBelfast (20 of 20)


Day 2 of Iceland Airwaves

Another great day full of music.  I wanted to quickly tell you about the tour we took yesterday.  I had recommended it as it was something new and so I figured I should go as well, I’m glad I did as it was well worth the time and money, even for someone who has been coming to Iceland regularly for almost a decade and half.

On tour with Ívar is a 3 hour walking tour that begins at Lucky Records.  As you wind through the city of Reykjavik you meander down streets and visit places hidden and off the beaten path.  You learn not only learn where a lot of famous musicians and artists began, but you get to see where the scene is currently developing.  You learn about streets, venues, buildings, new places to go, and old favorites of the city.  As a long time visitor here I was surprised that I may change some of my go-to places in order to return to businesses we visited on the tour.  I highly recommend the tour to veteran visitors as well as newbies.

Day 2 was a full night, We started off with a small solo set from former kimono front-woman Alison Macneil (Dame Judy Wench) and ventured to Hard Rock cafe for a high energy Tófa set.  Then to Gamla bíó for most of the night where we saw Hatari, Grísalappalísa, and For a Minor Reflection.  Then we crossed over to Þjóðleikhúsið, the National theatre of Iceland, to catch a few songs from the legendary Megas.

Enough babble I s’pose, here are the pics:

grisappalissa (14 of 16)

Now, on to day 3…


Day 1 of Iceland Airwaves 2017

And the festival begins.  Reykjavik is once again engulfed in music.  You can hear all types of music as you walk down the street.  Coffee shops, clothing stores, and restaurants all partake in the off-venue part of Airwaves during the day.  Stripped down small sets of not only the Airwaves festival bands, but quite a few other local bands as well.

And at night things were in a full swing, I really enjoy the return to the old feel of airwaves.  Running to and from individual venues and stopping by other venues for a quick listen.  My schedule last night was only 60% followed, but consisted of Cyber, Benny Crespo’s Gang, Ceasetone, Ruxpin, and Högni

Photos say a thousand words they say, so for this year’s Airwaves I will just let you look at the pics, and leave the write up for the wrap up.  You can follow me on Facebook for photos, comments, random photos, and band information, or you can see all the photos on Flickr:

bennycrespogang (1 of 4)

and on to day two…


8 Tips for Iceland Airwaves

It’s that time again, time for my favorite festival Iceland Airwaves.  This year they’ve brought back the original feel and are using more independent venues throughout the city.  It means more movement and walking, but also means you get to see a lot of bands in unique spots.  You can learn more about those venues at the Reykjavik Grapevine.

5 days of music spread all over the city can sound intimidating, but if you go in with a game plan and you’re prepared you’ll be amazed at how smooth things will go for you.

I highly suggest you follow these three pages on Social Media.  Iceland Airwaves page will give you the quickest updates and information on bands.  IMX is an awesome source for finding out the history of bands, and they also shoot out information on tours and new music to look for.  And the Reykjavik Grapevine is an English language newspaper, in an informal sometimes snarky manner they discuss the happenings around Iceland and you can gain more knowledge on things to do while you’re visiting.  They typically put out a special Iceland Airwaves edition, as well as run a blog during the festival dedicated to Airwaves.

Iceland Airwaves Iceland Music Reykjavik Grapevine
IA17 imxfacebook grapevinelogo

And with that, here are some pointers on prepping and enjoying the festival:

  • Follow the three social media sites above for quick access to changing info
  • Be relaxed, flexible, and social
  • Be prepared
  • Be a tourist, in and outside the city
  • Respect the land, yourself, the people, and your fellow festival folks
  • Support the artists, buy their music
  • Food, alcohol and favorite people & places
  • Have fun

Be Relaxed, Be Social

Combining the normal tourist activity with over 7500 festival folks makes Reykjavik a busy busy city.  Relaxation is key to enjoying yourself.  You may have to wait a little longer for drinks/coffee/food/entrance into a venue, so just relax and breath in the fresh air.  Be social, if you’re stuck in a line chances are you’re stuck with people of like mind, so don’t be afraid to ask your queue cohorts why they are there, what bands they’ve seen, who they are going to see and why.  There are quite a few unannounced gigs that will be going on around the city, and being social is the only way you’re going to find out about them.


dj. flugvél og geimskip surprising the audience by performing with Dr. Gunni at Airwaves 2015

There is a lot of music, a good deal you may have never heard of.  Listening to the Spotify link  and/or checking out the page I’ve created of Icelandic bands playing are both extremely easy ways to begin prepping for the festival, and most likely you’ll find bands you never knew you couldn’t live without hearing live.

The Airwaves crew have done an ace job of making it easy for you to plan ahead and navigate these different venues with an app which is available now.  Make sure you download it so you can start putting together a game plan.  You should always have a plan A and plan B, so if the venue you’re trying to see a gig at is full you can quickly move on to your second choice.  The app will save you a lot of time with maps, time schedules, alerts and reminders of upcoming gigs.  It really will keep you on schedule, or help you alter your schedule in seconds.

Be a tourist, in and out of the city


Nobody needs to tell you, but Iceland is gorgeous, so make sure you take some time to enjoy it. whether it’s just walking around Reykjavik looking at all the murals and art, or taking daytrips, get out and experience Iceland, there are plenty of options.  Here are a few of my favorites:


I Heart RVK

I heart Reykjavik is a fantastic walking tour company that will take you around Reykjavik discussing it’s history and unique attributes.

They book up quickly, so I would suggest trying to reserve a spot now.  It’s especially nice during Airwaves as there will be more music in the streets than usual while you walk around learning about old famous hangouts, and the history of the capital city.

otwiOn tour with Ívar is a new walking tour I’m really hoping to make it to this year.  Ívar Pétur is in the legendary party band FM Belfast, and this tour is his way of sharing a local’s perspective.  You’ll see the not well known side of Reykjavik, eat some food, drink some drinks, and hang out with Ívar and friends.  Reviews that I’ve read make it seem more like a day out with your very knowledgeable friends.


The Icelandic Punk Museum opened last year during Iceland Airwaves with Johnny Rotten in attendance.  Located in an abandoned Women’s public toilet in the center of downtown, the history of punk music is written on the wall in both Iceland and English.  Once entering, you can stroll through the toilet stalls reading a chronological account of the advancement of punk in Iceland.  Written by Dr. Gunni of legendary bands Bless, S.H. Draumer, Unun, and author of Iceland’s most comprehensive English music history book, Blue eyed pop.  Across from the historical toilets are instruments, clothing and other interactive exhibits.  It’s well worth a visit

Also check with your hotels, or the tourist office located in the city center.   there are plenty of day trips to take you to see waterfalls, geysers, and the gorgeous landscapes of Iceland outside of the city.

Respect the island and it will respect you Built on multiple volcanoes with lava in its veins, The island may try to kill you if you give it the chance.  Just be aware of your surroundings, footing, and the weather.  Common sense goes a long way, and Icelanders fully believe folks should use said common sense.  Have a good time not an out of control painful time. There’s a lot to do and even the half day you spend recovering from the night before will result in you missing a lot.

Pay attention to warnings about weather and areas not to tread in.  Unlike the East coast where we cancel school over the mere hint of snow, the Icelanders rarely give out warnings unless they need to.


Lucky Records

Support the artists, purchase their music while you’re there.  There is a lot of music you won’t find off the island, or if you do it’ll cost crazy shipping.  So purchase it while you’re visiting.  Iceland has some amazing record shops, Lucky Records, 12 Tónar, and Reykjavik Record shop are the ones I’m most familiar with.  All ran by folks who love music, and love talking about music, you’ll also find a lot of off-venue gigs will be at these places.

Food and favorite places.  There are a lot of solid places for quick bites or sit down meals.  And there is the Bónus grocery store in the event you want to grab your own stockpile of munchies.  I tend to go for the lighter side of things such as the Noodle Station or Núðluskálin.  Noodle Station is your quick simple three option noodle place, good for warming you up and filling yer gullet quickly and cheaply.

Núðluskálin gives you more options, including spice level.  “Noodles in a fen number 6” just so happens to be my favorite noodle dish in Iceland and required at least once when I’m visiting.  

Vegetarians and vegans also have quite a few places to check out.  Gló and Kaffi Vinyl are my two favorite places.

For a very quick simple fix, there is also the famous Pylsurs (hot dog).   the famous “Clinton” stand down by the Reykjavik art museum.  Cheap, and they are good. 

Bars are plentiful in the city, and the prices only slightly vary.  There will be bands or DJ’s playing in most of them.  During the week the bars close at 1 or 2am, but on the weekend the bars will be open until 4.   Find a bar with the atmosphere you dig and have at it.  Alcohol purchased at the liquor store is taxed pretty heavily.   I suggest picking up a bottle of wine or spirits at the duty free shop while you wait for your baggage, It will be considerably cheaper that way.

And finally, the most important factor, have fun.  Don’t get too wrapped up in details, maps, or must sees.  You are going to experience one of the most unique festivals in the world, and you’re going to do it with northern lights above your head.  If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to comment below, or send me a Facebook message at Ragnaarbastiaan. Follow me on Facebook for photos of the festival, as I’ll be up there snapping away.


Icelandic Bands of Iceland Airwaves 2017

Unlike past years, Iceland Airwaves will be in two cities this year, Reykjavik and Akureyri giving festival goers a chance to see more of the island, and from the looks of it, bringing more Icelandic bands from all over together to play. You can now look at the schedule hereAnd here are my tips to make the festival more enjoyable.

I will be photographing the festival this year and if you follow my Facebook page you view at your leisure.  You can see photos from Airwaves past here.

218 bands have been announced so far of which 162 are Icelandic.  I make this page as a quick reference and it’s a good thing to bookmark while you’re at the festival. There will be times where your plans may not come to fruition and you can look at the app, find a band you’ve never heard of for plan B, and use the quick reference here to see if you dig it.

Iceland Airwords is back as well.  A night of Poets, authors, and literature, including Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir, Kristín ÓmarsdóttirAndri Snær Magnason, Bergur Ebbi Sigurðsson, Kött Grá Pjé.  Check the online schedule for times.

With Icelandic bands it can always be hard to categorize their music styles as one of the greatest things about them is their ability to snag and grab their favorite things from all over the musical spectrum and make it work for them. So these lists are just general nods in the direction you may be looking for, for example, the Dance table, they sit right on the edge of electronic and dance pop/rock and beats. But I tried to focus on the prominence of a lead singer and the beats of the bulk of their songs in deciding which side to place them.

I’ve also made a table of just Möller Records and Thule Records artists as they have quite the strong presence this year. Both of these record labels have continually brought amazing electronic acts out of the Icelandic woodwork for years and I’m really stoked to visit their stage and get my fill of their collective music.

Categorizing some bands can be extremely difficult as they run borders are freely through genres, so if you feel a band needs to be moved into a different category let me know and I’ll change it.

Electronic / DJ / Atmospheric / experimental
Chevron DJ. flugvél og geimskip DJ Snorri Ástráðs DJ Spegill
DJ Sura Frank Murder Good Moon Deer Kosmodod
Ljósvaki Púlsvídd Röskva Ruxpin
Tonik ensemble TRPTYCH Yagya
Veteran Electronic Record Labels: Möller & Thule Records
Án (M) Andartak (M) Árni² (M) Bistro Boy (M)
Cold (T) Futuregrapher (M) Gunnar Jónsson Collider (M) NonniMal (T)
Octal Industries (T) Ozy (T) Ohm (T) Subliminal (M)
Thor (T) Vector (T)
Dance / electronic / pop / rock
Blissfull FM Belfast GusGus Mikael Lind
Milkywhale PASHN Sólveig Matthildur Sykur
Rock / Pop / Singer/Songwriter / Indie / Dance
200.000 Naglbítar AFK Árstíðir Ásgeir
Axel Flóvent AUÐUR aYia Benny Crespo’s Gang
Between Mountains Biggi Hilmars Ceasetone Daði Freyr
Dísa Einarlndra Emiliana Torrini & the Colorist Indriði
Fai Baba Fox Train Safari Fufanu Gangly
Godchilla Grúska Babúska Gorn Hildur
Högni Hugar JANA JFDR
Jón Jónsson KALLI Kiriyama Family Lára Rúnars
Lára Rúnars Máni Orrason Megas Mighty Bear
Moses Hightower Mr. Silla Nilüfer Yanya Omotrack
One week wonder Ösp Oyama Par-Ðar
Pascal Pinon Paunkholm Pranke Ragga Grönda
Rósa Guðrún Sveinsdóttir RuGl Rythmatik SiGRÚN
Skaði Þórðardóttir Skrattar Snorri Helgason Soffía Björg
Sóley Special K Sycamore Tree Tilbury
TSS Tusks Una Stef Valdimar
Vök Védís Warmland Young Karin
Punk / Metal / Hardcore / Garage Rock / Prog Rock
Dr. Gunni For a Minor Reflection Fræbbblarnir Grísalappalísa
Gróa HAM Hatari Hórmónar
Kælan Mikla Kontinuum Korter í flog Mammút
Phlegm Pink Street Boys ROHT Skelkur í bringu
Tappi Tíkarrass Tófa Une Misère We Made God
Hip-Hop / Trap / R&B / Rap
Alexander Jarl Alvia Islandia Aron Can Birnir
Cell 7 Chase Cryptochrome Cyber
Dillalude Elli Grill Emmsjé Gauti Fever Dream
Flóni Geisha Cartel GKR Glowie
Holy Hrafn Ider Joey Christ JóiPé og Króli
KÁ-AKÁ Lord Pusswhip Rari boys Reykjavíkurdætur
Shades of Reykjavik Sturla Atlas Tiny Úlfur Úlfur
Valby Bræður Young Nazareth
Composers / Atmospheric / Audio Visual
Amiina Bára Gísladóttir GlerAkur Gyða Valtýsdóttir
Halldór Eldjárn Jónas Sen

An Iceland Airwaves ’16 recap…

Well, it’s over.  Another year another massive amount of music, art, and sight seeing crammed into 5 days.  It began with an art show, a toilet museum opening with a Q&A from  John Lydon, and continued with a ton of new music.  On top of that I managed to go beyond my comfort zone and took part in conducting live interviews with bands, and created a few podcasts.

Jason from Zombie Popcorn convinced me to get behind a mic and conduct interviews and podcasts with him.   There were a few hilarious moments, a few cringe worthy moments, but a lot of good dialog with bands and musicians such as Dr. Gunni, Tófa, Milkywhale, and Sóley.  It’s all been compiled nice and neat like over at Zombie Popcorn on an Airwaves page.

I took all the photos in the blog post and you can see all the Airwaves photos here.


It all started the night before Iceland Airwaves officially began at Mokka-kaffi.  Dr. Gunni of Bless, S.H. Draumur, Unum, and his own band had an art exhibit opening at the cafe.  It’s his new album, ATVIK, of which he’s only made 18 copies all with acrylic paintings of historic moments in his musical life on the album covers.  The bottom middle photo above is of Dr. Gunni giving the legendary Bubbi Morthens an empty Coke bottle… because that’s what you do apparently.

A new punk museum opened in Iceland.  Housed in an old public toilet the museum gives you the history of punk stall by stall, with memorabilia and pull down headphones so you can sample the goods.  John Lydon, accompanied by Rambo showed up for the opening and participated in a Q&A where he talked about underwear, and questioned if punk was still alive.

One of the great things about Iceland Airwaves is there is always something new, and there is always something for everybody.  In the event you can’t cram it all in at the official shows there will always be extra off-venue gigs throughout the city during the day.  This blog post would turn into a book if I commented on everything I saw so I will stick to highlights for me of new bands and veterans.

First, the new:

tofawideTófa @ 12 Tónar

One of the freshest highlights was Tófa.  The word Tófa is Icelandic for a female blue fox.   An animal that looks sweet and innocent but actually can be vicious and cunning.  And much like their namesake the began with innocent banter about who they are right before blowing out our eardrums and manufacturing mosh pits with their heavy high-spirited sets both off-venue and on.  Even a power outage at Gaukurinn was no match for drum solos and banter. 

30751689975_10580aae98_oMilkywhale is what you get when you cross an upbeat choreographer with a musician from one of the most party-est bands in Iceland.  He was bouncing and smiling behind the decks, she was all over the stage,  belting out while the audience danced away.  Both shows I saw this Airwaves were full of interactions with the crowd breaking down that wall between performers and festival goers.


30547700880_6f2d7fb796_oHórmónar is another new band that I was really impressed with.  I actually left PJ Harvey early so that I could catch their gig at Gaukurinn and they ended up being a great way to end the festival.  they were all over the tiny stage and guard rails, with the drummer using a wheel rim and a saxaphone player stuffed in the corner.  It all added to the rough and angry set.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year.


30901145791_6b76c20cf6_oLast but not least is Cyber.  Comprised of some of the Reykjavíkurdætur crew, Cyber did aerobics with the crowd, rapped about Daddy issues and Aspen Barbie-world problems, and there was some hugging it out while pretending to pretend they were at prom.  Icelandic hip hop has become rather large over the last few years, and Cyber definitely was my top pick this year for the genre. 

Now for the highlights from the veterans:

This year was FM Belfast’s 10th anniversary playing Airwaves.  I first saw them in 2009-10?? when they closed the festival at NASA. The festival ended with hordes of people dancing and running past us in their underwear.  I have seen this band play small bars in Boston and stadium sized venues in Iceland and every time they leave you sweaty, out of breath, and wanting more of the party.


Now, 10 years later, they’ve upped their game with confetti-cannons, rolls and rolls of streamers, and costumes galore.  The band revved up the crowd to the point the floors felt as if they were going to give in from the insane crowd jumping up and down.

In an interesting twist of things, two veteran bands I see whenever they play swapped up their stages.  Prins Póló dropped his band and Berndsen added one.  Things are always changing and even established bands like to completely swap things out for the fun of it.



Prins Póló was joined by Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson from FM Belfast/Milkywhale/Plúseinn.  Perhaps having less folks on stage led to the heightened party atmosphere and more aggressive vocals and powerful beats.  Svavar was flying all over the stage interacting with the crowd as he sang songs we’ve all come to love.



Berndsen on the other hand, showed up with a full band.  He played a lot of the classics, and a few of the new songs from his upcoming album, “Alter Ego.”  The new material still has that 80’s feel, but there’s more of a rock element now.   I’ve dug what I’ve heard so far and can’t wait to get my grubby mits on the full album.  The set ended with a stripped down Berndsen, and the drummer standing on his kit.


30771807755_ba96f21e09_oPart of the fun of going to Airwaves a lot is you get to watch bands evolve.  Fufanu is one such band, I’ve been watching them for a few years now and this year was the best I’ve ever seen them.  Their music was tight and on point, the visuals complimented the set, and they filled the Harpa hall with rock quite nicely.  They’ve released a great new video for Sports, and their show superseded my expectations.



Vök packed the Reykjavik art museum and their high-octane performance with saxophones, synths, guitars and simulated drums was had the crowd excitedly dancing and singing along.  They seem a lot more at ease on stage and worked as a full rock unit playing a lot of material I actually hadn’t heard yet.



img_3254And then there was Pink street boys.  I fully admit to having a musical crush on this band.  Their dirty, garage punk rock style is just my type of music and they killed it at Gaukurinn.  The place was packed, and the sweaty horde of festival goers were rocking Their album is a go-to staple for me at home and in commute and I only wish I could see them play live more often.


30547786410_5cf249da04_oAnd then there was PJ Harvey.She filled the enormous hall at Valshöllin.  I was not only excited for the chance to see her live, but damned near ecstatic I  was given the opportunity to photograph.  The band entered the stage in marching band style with PJ in the middle playing the saxophone. 

She lined up in formation and once everyone was set moved front and center to begin the show.  While she played a few of her classics, her focus was on the new material.  With band members moving from brass instruments to strings, and her holding on dearly to her saxophone she filled the hall with her quirky style of music.


So, yet again another fantastic year at Iceland Airwaves.  All of the photos are mine though the featured image contains the Iceland Airwaves logo as well.  Early bird tickets will be on sale soon so make sure to follow Iceland Airwaves on Facebook and check their website frequently.  If you want a head start on learning about more of the Icelandic bands that may be playing next year, or just want a reminiscent feel for what you saw I suggest you check out Straumur on Facebook and their website.  They compile fantastic playlists mixed with international acts, but a lot of the new Icelandic bands coming out.  Also, follow Iceland Music Export on Facebook as they deliver speedy news on new bands, bands that are touring, and new information about the bands you already love.