Iceland Airwaves 2014 – Days 4 and 5

I was totally wiped out at the conclusion of Day 4… so I didn’t write a post.  Instead I figured I’d combine the last two days of the festival into one entry.

We actually didn’t see a ton of music on Saturday.  We opened strong, though, with the hip hop group Úlfur Úlfur off venue at Íslenski Barinn, a cool little pub that also may be home to Reykjavik’s best burger.  The guys played a cool stripped down set that didn’t try to do too much and they gave us a really good time.  I may need to pick up one of their albums before we leave – they were that good.  Do yourself a favor and go to YouTube and check out their video for “Tarantúlur,” which is pretty much all burnouts and dudes eating hot dogs.  You can thank me later.  Honestly I’m not sure when the hip hop scene here got so killer, but every single performance we’ve seen this trip has been rock solid, whether rapped in English or Icelandic.

Later in the afternoon we were back at Lucky Records for an in-store by the hip hop group Epic Rain.  This was a new style of live show for the group, as they were accompanied by a five piece band instead of relying exclusively on electronics for the music.  A standup bass, a violin, guitar, keyboard, and even the former drummer of the Sugarcubes pounding the skins!  The guys were great and the band played impressively well together in front of a relatively packed house at Lucky.

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From there we posted up for the rest of the night at Gamla Bíó.  The evening program there opened with the intriguing Lily the Kid, a new group featuring a couple of members of Bloodgroup including female vocalist Lilja K. Jónsdóttir.  They play a somewhat dark, ethereal style of pop, and last night’s show was only their second live performance (we caught the last song of their first show the night before).  I expect that we’ll be hearing more from them.  Next up was Low Roar, a talented performer with a great backing band, but one who plays a very low key, “quiet” style of music.  Prins Póló kicked it up a notch with his nice guitar work and talented drummer, but our energy was starting to fade fast.  We got through about half of How to Dress Well‘s electro-pop set and called it a night.

Sunday started with a relaxing morning at Blue Lagoon Spa, followed by an early afternoon techno set from Futuregrapher, who did a mix of music and reading from a book (in Icelandic).  He played one track off of his upcoming album, due to drop later this month, and it was a much more upbeat danceable number – should be one to be on the lookout for.

We closed out the festival at the “headliner” event featuring the Flaming Lips.  This is the first time at Airwaves that we’ve gotten tickets to an event that wasn’t covered by the general festival pass.  Most years the only way to get tickets to these special events is to wait in long lines, but this year they also offered the opportunity to purchase a limited number of tickets in advance, so we took advantage of that to guarantee ourselves a spot.  The opener was The War on Drugs, who played a solid one hour set, the last of their current tour.  Then it was onto the Flaming Lips, which can best be described as an experience – psychedelic patterns, big inflatable things, LED lights, balloons, costumes, and just general shenanigans.  While at times it was perhaps a bit overly theatrical it was still a really enjoyable time, with the band playing for a solid 90 minutes before taking a brief break and then doing an encore.

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And that, dear reader, is how our sixth Iceland Airwaves ended – with a pretty decent bang.  Our band count was “down” in 2014 (I only saw 33 shows…), but we had a great time and didn’t feel like we ran ourselves ragged trying to see everything possible.  Plus I’m coming home with a huge bag of vinyl, CDs, and tapes (more on those to follow), so I have that to last me through at least the end of the calendar year.

Only 51 more weeks ’til Iceland Airwaves 2015…

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