Day 2 – Thursday 13th October
Thursday started with a bit of cultural exploration, this was achieved by walking across the road to take a closer look at the stunning Hallgrímskirkja which dominates the skylineof Reykjavik. If a building can be described as both classical and futuristic, then that’s how I would describe this church. A trip up the tower provides stunning views over the city and is definitely worth the small fee. Victorsson, who had been chomping at the bit to get going in the morning, had photographed the church from virtually every angle by the time I had emerged from my room; this was not the only time he would be waiting around for me and I am thankful for his patience and resourcefulness – luckily he always found something interesting to look at.
Although the day was cold and overcast we found plenty to occupy our time whilst waiting for the first gig. The city centre has a friendly, welcoming feel, numerous independent shops and is also refreshingly devoid of the big chains such as McDonalds and Starbucks.
A trip to the National Museum of Iceland (well worth a visit) had left us near Nordic House where the App told us we wanted to be if we were to catch our first artist of the day, Guðríð. For me one of the best features of Airwaves was the comprehensive ‘Off-Venue’ chedule. Numerous places, such as Nordic House, put on shows throughout the day giving Artists the opportunity to play more than one set over the five days of the festival. In fact many bands played 3+ sets across the week. It may seem daft but this had the effect of adding further integrity to the event, it really was a ‘music’ festival for the bands and the fans. I’m sure there was an ‘industry’ side to proceedings but this was nowhere near as prevalent as I have seen in other events of this type. The off-venue schedule meant that you could catch a band playing an intimate acoustic set in the afternoon and then a full set at another time. It also meant that there was little distinction given to the ‘big’ bands, everyone seemed happy to play everywhere, even if it meant squeezing six to eight band members in a space equivalent to someone’s lounge. It was these smaller events that went a long way towards making Airwaves so very special.
Guðríð hails from the Faroe Islands (where it is often foggy apparently), although she is currently residing in Reykjavik – I’m not a stalker, Victorsson had a little chat when he had his CD signed:
Her set was stripped back to just an electric guitar and drums and, when combined with her voice, gave proceedings an evocative feel. Victorsson caught the full band set later in the week and raved about it. Either way Guðríð is a great songwriter with a splendid voice. Standing room only proved that we weren’t the only ones who thought so. That said, the next band into the Nordic House, Agent Fresco, almost doubled the crowd, causing the sliding doors at the back to be opened with people spilling into the library behind. We didn’t stay long enough for me to pass much of an opinion – although ‘not my cup of tea’ might be opinion enough. From the swelling crowds, the amount of posters around town and the fact that these guys seemed to be one of the hardest working bands at the festival, playing gigs most days, it would seem that they are definitely on the up and good luck to them.
Things were definitely gaining momentum in festival land by the time we got to our next venue, the Reykjavik Downtown Hostel. The place was packed with people wanting to see Of Monsters and Men. With no standing room indoors, we watched the set from a side door, giving us a unique view of the back of the band. We could hear the music no problem and the band played an electric set, feeding off a crowd that were obviously lapping it up. Between bands we managed to swim against the tide of bodies to take our place right at the front for the next act- Lay Low, also known as Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir.
Armed with just her guitar and a variety of effects pedals, Lay Low veered from the blues to country and back again. An accomplished performer, she had a gentle but powerful voice, interesting lyrics and many excellent songs. Again, this off venue gig had given us an
opportunity to see a musician at their most stripped back, we were not left disappointed as Lay Low kept the crowd mesmerized throughout.
What a great way to draw our first full day of Airwaves to a close. We’d seen a bit of the great city of Reykjavik watched seven bands and bought a few CD’s – exactly what we came for!