A leisurely Saturday started with a visit to the pub. Lots of hungover faces were scattered about and as many soft drinks and coffee were being consumed as were beers. Why were we in the pub first thing? Football of course. Victorsson is a Manchester United fan and today they were taking on the mighty Liverpool FC. As the match ended 1-1, everyone left happy.
We wandered the now familiar streets of Reykjavik, whilst discussing the day’s itinerary; top of the list was getting to the Reykjavik Downtown Hostel nice and early to ensure we saw Útidúr. This meant we had a couple of hours to fill, so we popped along to the very fine record shop Smekkleysa. Just to highlight how much Airwaves had taken over the city, in a shop a few doors down the road another band was starting to play (I think this was Porquesi, but couldn’t be sure).
On the steps inside Smekkleysa, Kalli played a set on his acoustic guitar. Even in these surroundings it was an emotionally charged occasion, I swear I saw a tear from Kalli at one point. These were crafted pop/folk songs with plenty of heart. The fragile but gravelly vocals offset the lyrics and everyone left suitably moved – not necessarily what we were expecting, but a truly memorable experience all the same.
A lucky piece of timing ensured that we made it to the Downtown Hostel just as the crowd for the first artist were leaving. We were 90 minutes early for Útidúr, but this enabled us to get a prime place near the front. As an extra bonus, we got to see Samaris who play atmospheric electronica melded with clarinet and extraordinarily haunting vocals. I’m happy to admit that I’d become sceptical when no guitars were being set-up and a laptop took centre stage. However, I was made to forget this almost instantly when Samaris started playing. Again this was like nothing else we had heard at the festival. It was an original and captivating set.
We managed to keep our front row place as various members of Útidúr started drifting onto the stage. We were also lucky to be standing next to a very lovely lady who chatted to us about the history of Airwaves in this particular venue. She runs http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/ and along with her colleagues were recording everything that went on for the festival in the Hostel (well I’m sure not everything, but you know what I mean). Check out loads of performances from this year’s Airwaves here:
There was a fleeting moment when we thought that, eventhough some of the band had shown, the gig may not go ahead as some members were still missing in action. A little later, everyone assembled/squashed onto the stage, they kicked things off. What followed was a brilliant gig full of wonderful songs. How would I describe the band? Well there are shades of Folk, Pop, Lounge mixed with a large slab of epic sprawling soundtrack thrown in for good measure. What comes out is a beautiful racket topped off by duelling vocals and wonderous harmonies. We were treated to most of the album ‘This Mess We’ve Made’ which I would recommend people listen to, some fun banter and a charismatic display from a band on top of their game. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely. Victorsson diligently went round to every member of the band afterwards to get his CD signed, and all the talk from the other fans queueing was that Útidúr, who had played numerous sets at Airwaves, had provided many personal festival highlights. All this and it was only 18:30!
The evening was spent skipping (not literally) between the two venues at Harpa. Myrra Rós played some nice acoustic based tunes, Gudrid Hansdóttir and her full band rocked Victorsson’s world whilst I caught Veronica Falls doing their ‘indie’ thing upstairs. Final act of the night were Song for Wendy, a couple armed with only acoustic guitar and a Mac, making music in-between numerous technical hitches. Nobody seemed to mind the delays as the music and voices were so beautiful.
So, we’d managed to see Útidúr, who’d lived up to every expectation. We had also seen, discovered and experienced so much more. Iceland Airwaves ’11 just got better and better.
Day 5 was actually spent sightseeing on The Golden Circle. As this is a music blog I won’t go into details but just say that Iceland is a strikingly beautiful place and I (and Victorsson who was on his 3rd visit) would wholeheartedly recommend a visit. If you are a music fan then Iceland Airwaves is a treat most definitely not to be missed. Great location, great venues and most importantly, brilliant music.
For us Iceland Airwaves was not quite over. On the evening of day 5 we popped out for a quick beer and stumbled onto the loudest, most rocking band of the festival, Porquesi
Again this was something quite different from what we had already seen. Give these boys a listen because the album, ‘This is Forever’, is rather good.
And on this final, ear-splitting chord, Iceland Airwaves 2011 was finished. It was an inspiring experience, and one that I hope I’ll enjoy again in the future.