Iceland Airwaves Festival – Reykjavik, Iceland – 2 to 4 Nov 2013

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We took a weekend trip to Reykjavik for Karen’s birthday and I managed to make that tie-in with the Iceland Airwaves music festival and a Kraftwerk concert. What a great weekend in our favourite place with lots of music along the way. It was too late to get full tickets for the Festival with access to all the official venues, and would have been OTT price wise too seeing as we were only there for two full days really. Luckily Airwaves has an incredibly busy ‘off-venue’ programme where nearly all of the artist play in bars and clubs and halls during the day with free entry. That let us see lots of who we wanted and have the evenings free to eat, drink and be merry … win-win then!

We started off with a morning visit to the Volcano Cafe (where we later watched a lovely film about Icelandic volcanos in their cinema). The event was a collection of Irish artists, the star undoubtedly being Conor O’Brien of Villagers, who I’d wanted to see for a while. His solo slot of half a dozen songs was just spellbinding, especially with us sitting with a coffee a few feet away. His great storytelling songs, nice fingerpicking and charismatic delivery, just blew us away. 9/11 for Conor alone! See video below. We also saw a nice set from Donal Lunny.

We headed onto other venues, first of all excited to see ‘Lord Pusswhip’. Unfortunately the performance didn’t live up to the promise of the name, strange Icelandic hip-hop rap. The only words we could make out were ‘f&%k this s@&t’!

Onwards via Kristen Karen in a rush to catch múm’s KEXP broadcast at KEX Hostel. We got there just in time to a mobbed hostel and I edged my way to the front ’cause I’m a big múm fan. Not disappointed, especially with Gyða back in the band, only 4 songs, but magical. See full video below. Seeing ‘We Made God’ performing in a shop window to a crowded Laugevegur rounded off an unusual but fun afternoon! A special birthday dinner at the Humarhúsið (Lobster House) was the perfect end to a perfect day … ‘so glad I spent it with you’ etc. etc. !

Next day we started the afternoon in a bar with bands on all day and stayed for 3. Aragrúi were really good with great vocals, Waveland less so, and Saytan played some devilish rock. We then headed to the Hotel Borg for Hymnalaya who were really popular, but a bit bland for me. Then a fun Americana set from Sarah McDougall ended our two days of the festival apart from Kraftwerk on Monday. A great holiday anyway, but brilliant to catch so many artists in informal settings and a lovely laid back party atmosphere. I’d go back to Airwaves anytime I could afford it … Not often then!

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