Victorsson had taken this festival very seriously. For many months he had trawled YouTube, Myspace etc to find out which bands we should definitely make sure we see on our trip. I’m not entirely sure of all the details of his criteria for selection, but I know that he has a fine ear for good music, so had no issue with him creating our schedule. Weeks before we packed our bags, there was one band he couldn’t stop talking about: Útidúr, and it was this performance that had really caught his eye…
After consulting both App and paper schedule, it was agreed that today was the one that we saw Útidúr, as they had two gigs; at the beginning and end of the day. With this in mind, we took our seats in the Reykjavik Backpackers early. Quite a few people seemed to drift in and out again after discussions at the bar, we then saw someone make a change to the running order list – Útidúr had cancelled! Drinks already purchased we settled in for the alternative act (apologies I do not have a name) who I assume was influenced by Josh T. Pearson. It was a set dripping in heartbreak, even the Gaga cover.
Thankfully Airwaves venues are all within easy walking distance and fifteen minutes later we were back in the library at the Nordic House, watching Team Me, who were great fun. The venue was again packed and remained so for the enigmatic Jenny Hval. Three long tracks with a very experimental feel, again took our festival experience off on a very different trajectory. Although not one of my favourite sets of the week, it was certainly memorable, challenging and intense.
A quick stroll back into town and we were hunting in the dusk for the Macyard. Our policy when lost had been to look out for other wristbands and slightly dazed looks. This policy turned up trumps again and we found that due to the rain, Vicky had moved their gig indoors at Hemmi & Valdi. A friendly welcome, warmth, comfy sofas and cheap beer ensured we didn’t miss the standing outside experience.
Vicky were also on Victorsson’s main list and they didn’t disapoint. Once we had got over our excitement around the guitarist’s green hair, we were treated to a entertaining acoustic set with singer Eyglo’s (hope that’s the correct spelling) vocals packed with raw angst; the emotion intensified by some great violin work. Oh and the drummer played a large box on which he sat (I’m sure there is a technical name for said box). It was the kind of gig that left you feeling like you’d been at something particularly special, we were very pleased with ourselves, feeling like we had stumbled upon a real ‘event’ by catching this group in such an intimate venue. The perfect end to another fantastic day of ‘Off venue’ performances.
Our evening started at the Glaumbar with Contalgen Funeral, these guys (and girl) know how to entertain a crowd and write a song about cocaine; in fact they know how to write nearly a whole set of songs about cocaine. It was great to hear a bit of banjo, double-bass and spoons – the festival continued to confound (in a good way).
Next door in Gaukur A Stong, we caught the end of a very loud set by El Camino. No singing, but lots of guitars, drums and bass – think Muse crossed with The Shadows! Next up was Vicky in full gig mode and the change was a bit of a revelation. The girls had matching black and silver outfits, there was some cool sparkly eye make-up and they were very loud. My only real point of reference would be Paramore, but just because they are contemporary, rock and have a female singer. The tunes we heard earlier retained the catchy hooks, but the pop element was replaced by ’in your face’ rock.
Having detoured to see Vicky, we were late for an appointment with Niki and the Dove at NASA. Therefore around the corner, we found Elín Ey at Tjarnarbio. Just how many great venues there are in Reykjavik is unknown to me, but this was yet another one and it was a real shame it was so empty. Elín started on her own and added an extra musician each song. A confident performer, Elín seemed unfazed by the small audience and didn’t let it effect the delivery of some top folk influenced tunes. I can only speak for myself, but I really enjoyed this set. Oh, and as an aside the Lycra catsuits were an interesting touch.
Sóley came on next. I’d been looking at her CD earlier that day and had read that she is (or was) in Seabear. I have never heard of this band, but liked them immediately because of the cool name. Sóley was excellent, a host of good songs, charming between song banter and a lovely voice. I have listened to Sóley’s record a lot since I got home and highly recommend, ‘We Sink’ – it is very fine. I also now have a reason, beyond the great name, for buying a Seabear record.
It’s late, we have seen nine sets from eight different bands, but still we have one more gig to go – Útidúr are on a Idno at 01:20. It is packed to the rafters and although we do manage to get in the front door, entering the hall is virtually impossible. A quick review of our timetable advises us that we have one more opportunity to catch the elusive Útidúr tomorrow, off-venue. We escape the crowds and head off into the evening, today has been another very special day at Iceland Airwaves ’11.