It’s finally here! The time of the year that is like Christmas and birthdays and job promotions and raises and playing with puppies, all rolled into one and fueled with more than a little beer and some sleepless nights. I speak, of course, of Iceland Airwaves.
We arrived in Reykjavik on Tuesday afternoon and headed straight down to Harpa to pick up our wristbands. A quick stop at the merch table yielded a couple of DVD documentaries I’d never seen or heard of before – Punk in Iceland and Living Dead HAM, so I hadn’t even been in town an hour before starting to buy music related stuff. I strongly suspect that was only the tip of the iceberg.
In the early evening we headed down to Lucky Records to visit with our friend Ingvar and catch some live music. While the festival officially opens on Wednesday, for the last few years Lucky has gotten things started early, and 2015 was no exception – they were one of two locations holding shows on Monday, and one of only four today (Tuesday). Unfortunately we just missed Vaginaboys, but we did get there in time to catch up with our friend Bryan from Theory of Whatever records, and he handed off to me a copy of the label’s newest release, the Icelandic comp CD Iceland Whatever Vol. 1, which literally just came out last Friday. You can learn more about it on the label website and if you’re quick enough you might still get it for the early-bird pre-order price of $5.50. If not, it only moves up to $6.50, which is still a bargain. The comp has 14 songs on it, some of which like AMFJ’s “Esja” are originals created specifically for this CD. Check it out HERE and don’t miss out on getting a copy.
Lucky was fairly full for all three of the bands we saw there tonight, starting with the hard rockers Ottoman (left) who played a heavy Black Sabbath-esque style of music fronted by a more traditional hard rock/metal singer. Atli Steinn Bjarnason was particularly impressive in the way he flat-out attacked that little drum kit and drove the band forward. They were followed by the more chill, somewhat modern prog stylings of Stafrænn Hákon, who showed some real musical talent and were able to hold my attention through some fairly prolonged jams. I had one of their records put aside for me, so I’m looking forward to hearing more of them upon our return home. The night ended with the full-blown assault that is Iceland’s Endless Dark, a band that if anything reminds me a little of Linkin Park, except with a way heavier sound and instead of one of the guys having a hip hop type delivery, you’re getting straight up hardcore. The new stage area at Lucky is great because it puts the band a bit above crowd level, but for a seven-man operation like Endless Dark it was way too small to contain them, so some of the action spilled out onto the floor, which was absolutely fine with the hometown crowd who rocked out pretty hard. We’d seen the band previously at Airwaves, and once again they rocked the house.
As an added bonus, we got a pretty incredible show from the northern lights despite there being a few clouds in the sky. It was by far the longest and most robust event we’ve ever seen, and unfortunately it’s impossible for the photos we took to do it justice. If you’ve ever seen it firsthand, you know exactly what I mean.
I can’t wait to see what the official opening day of Airwaves has in store for us tomorrow!