Iceland Airwaves: Day Two – Valdimar, Ojba Rasta, Tilbury, Hudson Wayne

Although it may have been hard to stand, let alone walk, outside today due to high winds, it was well worth the travel from hotel to the venues.

The day started at the KEX hostel, gathering an interview with Chris Kellogg, the production manager on staff in Iceland for KEXP. He took care of the bands that KEX was hosting, dealt with the non-sense of what happened if they’re late, but most of all he mad sure things happened on time. Stay tuned for our interview.

After the interview, Ojba Rasta set up to play. They are a 10-piece reggae band, which became the first thing KEXP listeners heard waking up to in Seattle today.  Made up of guitars, drums, bass, baritone, sax, trumpet, keys, and a mixing board, this band knew how to play off of each other. They’d play a verse and chorus, and then someone would improvise. What was so different about this band was that none of the instruments had effect pedals, but instead were all hooked into a mixer on stage controlled by a band mate. Whenever delay or reverb was needed on an instrument, the band mates would surrender the tone of their sound to the one person in the band devised for controlling their effects.

Valdimar and Tilbury played at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina‘s Slippbarinn afterwards. Getting there early paid off because Of Monsters of Men had started a soundcheck and played a few songs, which sounded amazing.

Lounging around the hotel until four to see Valdimar perform, I wondered what they would sound like. Hearing only a few songs before, surprise hit my eardrums. The band mixes indie-pop and ambient music along with the addition of horns. Listening to them made me think of the ambient guitar of Explosions in the Sky mixed in with ska. The lead singers voice carried over the band, filling in the details to the band behind him and leaving the crowd with a desirable sound.

Keeping put at Marina Hotel for the band Tilbury, I stood hoping to be captivated by this band as much as Valdimar had done before. Made up of guitars, drums and synthesizers, Tilbury didn’t stand a chance when compared with Valdimar. Each song sounded the same and didn’t seem to pull the audience members in. The crowd was small and sneaking out a few songs early would have been noticeable and rude, so I was stuck watching the whole set.

Over at Harpa Kaldalón, Hudson Wayne performed. Happy to finally have seating in the venue, the few early minutes were used to relax and prepare for an entertaining show. Once the band began to play, their soulful blues sound quieted the crowd instantly. The grit of the lead singers voice added a dirtiness to the songs, fighting with the melody for an even stronger sound. At times the band’s sound turned into a country swing as the guitars plucked their strings with a twang along with the get up of the drums. Hudson Wayne was just one of the many bands that I had the pleasure to hear and definitely made me realize how awesome it is to be at Iceland Airwaves.

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