With about 230 performances spread out over five nights in twelve Reykjavik venues, this year’s Iceland Airwaves festival was the largest and longest it has been in its 13-year history. Such performances included Icelanders Sigur Ros and Of Monsters and Men, British punks the Vaccines and the American indie-rock band Dirty Projectors.
Thursday night’s performance (November 1st) featured Of Monsters and Men, Steindór Andersen, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, and Nova Heart. Icelanders Of Monsters and Men played their famed “Lake House” to an excited crowd and also covered the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Skeletons.” Earlier that day in the Harpa lobby, Steindór Andersen performed rimur, a traditional Icelandic narrative poetry, accompanied by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson’s electronic sounds and Páll Gudmundsson’s stone harp. The performance, which was a promo gig for Stafnbúi (12 Tonar), a new volume of rimur by Andersen and Hilmarsson, had what Rolling Stone described as a “medieval” effect. The final stand-out performance was from Nova Heart, a band from Beijing. The Seventies New Wave group performed songs that featured heavy blues and dance floor rhythms.
On Friday, local musicians performed at a Reykjavik book store to celebrate the release of the coffee-table book Stud vors lands, which roughly translates to “Pop Music in Iceland” and is dedicated to Iceland’s rock music history. Later in the night, Nelson Can, a trio of Danish women, performed their punk-funk minimalism songs from their EP Nelson Can. Other performances that night included Icelanders The Vintage Caravan and Thee Attacks, a quartet from Denmark.
Saturday night’s performances saw Sigur Ros, Olöf Arnalds and Dirty Projectors. Dirty Projectors’ performance proved their place as a modern rock band, and even featured famed Icelander Björk. To close out the festival, the biggest rock band in Icelandic history, Sigur Ros, performed to the highest-box office tally for a single local concert by an Icelandic band.
This year Iceland Airwaves was the largest and greatest yet. The five-day festival saw memorable performances from hundreds of bands and certainly created music history.