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In absentia Airwaves review

Big Thank You, everyone. Your comments on the last post have given me a major boost. It makes such a difference to get a glimpse of the people behind the stats, as it were, and to know their responses to what I’m putting out there. I can’t quite explain why, but it does.

So now that I know how you feel, let’s get back to business.

This past weekend saw the Iceland Airwaves festival here in Reykjavík, which is an annual event and one of the coolest music festivals on the planet if you believe the hype – at least it has the foreign press is crawling all over it and punters from elsewhere making the trip. True to form, YT and EPI missed it, like we miss everything that’s supercool and unmissable around here, even though last year we solemnly declared that next year we wouldn’t miss it. But – we did!

Airwaves, largely sponsored by Nicelandair, started as a showcase for new Nicelandic bands a few years back and within two years had mushroomed into this major event that nonetheless has this really happy hometown feel to it. All the venues are situated within a few blocks of each other, and you buy these bracelets that are good for the whole festival, so you can just walk from one venue to another and check out whatever suits your fancy. They have this ‘Airwaves Centre’ at this pub right in the middle of the area, where you can have a drink and order food and generally hang out with other punters and talk about the different acts and whathaveyou. Airwaves prides itself on catching the latest cutting edge, up-and-coming bands [as opposed to big headlining acts] and reportedly this formula works rather excellently.

The biggest [read: best-known] act at the festival this year was Bloc Party, which has proven itself to be the coolest band in the universe. Why? Well there’s this upper secondary school in Hafnarfjörður [municipality in the Greater Reykjavík Area, the one you pass through first on your way in from the airport] called Flensborg, and they were organizing a school dance. It so happened that the school dance coincided with the Airwaves festival, and when the student committee sat down to brainstorm which bands they should try to get to play at their dance, someone suggested Bloc Party, which everyone thought was an excellent idea. So they got on the blower and called Bloc Party who went, ‘Play at your school dance? Sure!’ So Flensborg, this little school in Hafnarfjörður, southwest Iceland, had Bloc Party playing at their school dance this weekend and charging them less than most local bands would have. And that’s why you gotta love Bloc Party. And also those wacky – and irreverent– Nicelanders, bless.

Meanwhile, YT has her favourite Airwaves act all picked out [despite my absence] and it is Ólöf Arnalds, whose new CD I am quite obsessed with right now because it’s just so lovely. This girl quietly tiptoed into the mainstream about a year ago and is proving herself to be one of Iceland’s major cultural treasures. We saw a video installation she did at the Culture House during Reykjavík Culture Night last year, which was very cool, and just a few weeks ago she released this CD on which she plays most instruments, writes all the songs except for two, and sings. The music is really prettily arranged and the atmosphere is intimate and sort of old-fashioned … reminds me of an old Icelandic timber house with lace curtains and the sun streaming through. Her voice takes a little bit of getting used to – it’s unusual, almost uncomfortable, so that you almost want to cringe but don’t, because she’s so sincere. And – this is a big plus – she sings in Icelandic, which is becoming very rare, what with everyone wanting to make it and singing in English. And she’s articulate and her lyrics are like gossamer – so delicate and joyful. Just gorgeous.

Okay, that concludes my Airwaves review [not bad for someone who wasn’t even there, wouldn’t you agree?] – and now for something completely different: make sure you check out this little guy here, and keep your volume on. [Heheheheh, and get a load of the bow at the end!]

We had a storm today. It started around noon, just as YT was heading out for a bracing walk around the golf course, meaning the walk was even more bracing than bargained for. Stuff went flying through the general locale and the rain came down in sheets. Happily it’s calmed down a bit now – temps currently 9°C [48F] with sunrise at 8.38 am and sunset at 5.45.



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