Iceland Airwaves ’16 – Let the Madness Begin!

Wim over at ROK – Icelandic Music Review asked me to put together something for that site about the bands I’m most looking forward to seeing at Airwaves this year.  And it seemed like such a good idea, I thought I’d post it here too.


The weeks leading up to Iceland Airwaves are always filled with apprehension for me. I’ve seen the roster of incredible bands slated to appear, but the schedule hasn’t come out yet. Will I get to see everyone I want to see? What if there’s a conflict that puts Dr. Spock up against FM Belfast at the same time? How pissed am I going to be if I don’t get to see Agent Fresco? What if the waffle truck isn’t at Lækjartorg after the Friday and Saturday night shows??? These are the things that keep me awake at night.

This year will be my eighth consecutive Iceland Airwaves, so my list of “bands I want to see” is actually two separate lists – one of bands I’ve seen before and want to see again, and the other of those I’ve never been fortunate enough to see. Usually if a conflict exists I’ll go to see the band I’ve never seen before, but not always… some are so good that I’d go see them no matter who they were up against. So with that in mind, here’s a look at the bands on my “short list” for 2016.

We saw some great hip hop at Airwaves ’15, and as a result I’ll definitely try to catch Glacier Mafia, Epic Rain, and Úlfur Úlfur. On the metal front, DIMMA and Sólstafir are sure to attract my attention, as will some metal/punk crossover bands like Pink Street Boys and Dr. Spock. If I’m feeling a bit introspective or dark in my mood, I’ll try to find shows by Vök, Kælan Mikla, or Fufanu. But if I want to party I’ll certainly want to go crazy to FM Belfast or Berndsen. And if I feel the need to embrace technology and electricity with some electronica, nothing can beat Kiasmos or Hermigarvill or Tonik Ensemble. And what about Agent Fresco? It’s not Airwaves without seeing them tear the house down.

But man, there’s so much fresh new (or at the very least “new to me”) stuff to see and hear this year too! Bootlegs and Auðn will surely make sure I don’t find myself too metal deficient, while if I just want to get weird I’ll check out Vaginaboys or Reptilicus. Electronically I’d like to experience Einarindra and RVK DNB, but at the end of the day the performer I’m most excited to see for the very first time is none other than Björk, who we missed a few years back when she had to cancel. I can’t wait to experience her live at Harpa this year.

Truth be told, though, I’m most looking forward to seeing my friends and making some new ones, because that’s a special part of the Airwaves experience. If you ever get a chance to go, make sure to take the time to talk to the locals and the other festival-goers, because if you’re lucky you just might make a life-long friend or two.