With a little over 10 weeks to go before the 2016 Iceland Airwaves Music festival the time has come to begin prepping for the crazy 5 days on a volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean.
Yet again, the Iceland Airwaves crew have come up with an amazing 5 days of music. Digable Planets, Boogie Trouble, PJ Harvey, Snorri Helgason, Santigold, Of Monsters and Men, and many more. In fact, 128 bands have been announced so far, with what I believe will be another announcement coming up shortly. And this is just the on-venue set of bands, there is still the daytime 0ff-venue gigs with even more bands for you listen to and discover during the day.
This year I will be working with Zombie Popcorn to bring you recaps, interviews with bands, interviews with fans, and a lot of photos. Also, soon we will begin highlighting the bands on our Facebook page. Start following it for a daily dose of music.
And with that, here are some pointers on prepping and enjoying the festival:
- Sign up to the Iceland Airwaves Mailing list
- Be relaxed, be 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 places
- Have fun
I highly suggest you follow the above pages on Social Media, the 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 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.
Be Relaxed, Be Social
Combining the normal tourist activity with over 9000 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, what 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 they will announce closer to festival time. Make sure you download it so you can start putting together a game plan of what you want to see when they release the official schedule. 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 two 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.
Kexland is another fantastic touring outfit, more designed for smaller groups of tourists to take you out of the normal touring zones. Quite often an Icelandic musician will accompany you for a day of tours. I also suggest you check them out earlier than later to make sure you get a spot.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.