Iceland Airwaves: Day One – Boogie Trouble, Samaris, and more (11/1)

Boogie Trouble @ 12 Tónar

Unlike other music festivals around the world, Iceland Airwaves is notorious for having the best new musical discoveries. It is one of the many reasons people keep coming back to the festival for crying out loud. Sure, you can come all the way to Iceland to see that one band who has been receiving quite a bit of buzz lately from your favorite blog or music review website, but that defeats the purpose of Airwaves. Half the fun of coming to Airwaves is walking around aimlessly in Reykjavík and stumbling into venues hearing bands you have never heard of.

Boogie Trouble, a disco/dance-punk band from Reykjavik, fits the bill of being one of Iceland’s hidden treasures. Playing one of the first off-venue shows of the day at the infamous 12 Tónar, Boogie Trouble decided to take no chances and play nothing but tasty disco jams with enough cowboy and way-wah to satiate your appetite. Their songs are not complicated, or deep for that matter. They sing about breakups and have songs called “T*** and Cheetos.” In the indie rock world, you might lose some cred for admitting ABBA was your favorite band, but Boogie Trouble does not care and openly pays tribute to them anyway. They do not take themselves seriously, and when witnessed in a live setting, they let the audience know that it is perfectly all right to laugh at a concert and dance at the same time.

Samaris @ Reykjavik Art Museum

No stranger to Iceland Airwaves, Samaris is a quality native Icelandic act that may be one of the few bands raising the bar for those involved in the electronic music scene today. Taking inspiration from everything from post-dubstep to downtempo, and combining beats with live sampling of vocals and clarinet, Samaris creates music that’s both organic and emotional.

To this day, the group has one EP under their belt, which has received high acclaim across the board, but when you are a band who is playing their second Airwaves, you know you are going to have to step up your game. With their show at Reykjavík Art Museum, Samaris was not shy when it came to delivering brooding electronica. Many of the songs performed in their set were new and claimed to be off their new EP, which has yet to be titled. Judging by their new approach of making darker and colder songs, the band has clearly matured. They closed their set with familiar tunes such as “Goda Tungl,” but judging by the crowd’s responses, the band needs to make more new music, and fast.

Phantogram @ Reykjavik Art Museum

Following a theme of electronic music, New York’s Phantogram took the stage after Samaris’ powerful set. It was a tough act to follow considering that Samaris is huge local favorite in Iceland, but despite this Phantogram managed to keep the the energy flowing but instead with more positive vibes. On behalf of the crowd, it was a drastic change of pace, but no one seemed to mind in the long run.

Phantogram is not a band who is exactly treading new waters, but they are a band who successfully combines electronica with indie rock. They create grooving dance jams centered around fast-paced beats, distorted guitars, and just the right amount of samples. When translated in a live setting, Phantogram makes it clear they want to be the life of the party.

HAM @ HARPA – NORÐURLJÓS

How exactly would one describe HAM? Well, for simplicity’s sake, they are pretty heavy. HAM does not like to be pigeonholed as just another heavy metal band, though. By taking a quick glance at them playing at HARPA, one might feel cheated or feel like maybe they stepped into the wrong section of HARPA. HAM does not fill the requirements of a heavy metal band in the looks department. As a matter of fact, they all look like “normal” people, for lack of a better term. Putting this all aside, people go crazy for this band. No joke.

Their songs deal with themes commonly used in the heavy metal genre such as hate and love, but when is that last time you heard a straightforward heavy metal song about good ol’ friendship? Exactly. HAM loves riffs too, but there are no face-melting solos anywhere to be found. HAM plays what they want to play, even if they borrow some common ingredients associated with heavy metal. This is the reason why they are so popular in Iceland and always draw a huge crowd wherever they play.

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