Iceland Airwaves capped off on Saturday with an eclectic variety of vibrant acts. The Reykjavík Art Museum was jammed packed as people pushed and shoved through audience members who were crammed elbow to elbow in order to get to the front of the stage. Brooklyn-based band Friends was the second to last performance of the night, and the band’s name is truly a testament to the highly interactive performance they delivered. Band member Matt Moltnar was the first to walk out on stage sporting a long white leather coat and Jeffery Campbell-esque heels. The lead female vocalist Samantha Urbani scurried behind, dancing, yelling, and thanking the audience in Icelandic for their presence with a series of “Takk, Takk, Takk.” Her bubbly and exciting personality sent the showcase into overdrive when they performed “Friend Crush.” Urbani’s grungy vocals danced underneath bassist Lesley Hann’s low strumming while drums and brief keyboard interjections pulled the song together. Some of the crowd knew every lyric, which surprised me. At one point in the set, both vocalists jumped into the crowd, grabbing and touching audience members as they pushed people’s faces close to their microphones to sing along. Although Friends isn’t as well known in Iceland, their big performance spoke volumes. The small band’s music has traveled from the Concrete Jungle all the way to the Land Of Fire And Ice, and that’s a big deal. Samantha Urbani yelled to the audience in between sets, “This is honestly a dream come true.”
Urbani’s stage mannerisms highlighted an intense amount of intoxication, but that didn’t stop her from reaching untouchable vocals as she filled the museum with Mariah Carey-like high notes and eardrum-bursting screeches comparable to Karen O. “Mind Control” was another favorite of the audience led by the drummer of the band Oliver Duncan. The song featured fast and ‘70s inspired disco and funk accompanied by thrashing drum solos, heavy bass, and blaring keyboard notes.
The members of the band seem like friends jamming out with one another. The band works as a collective onstage to provide a percussive pop urban sound. Urbani shouted to the audience their hotel and room number for people to come and hang out.
The streets of downtown Reykjavík were completely flooded with young fresh-faced beauties from around the world on Saturday night. Everyone was in a rush to see their favorite acts perform. Broken beer bottles, ripped festival schedules, and cigarette butts littered the streets. The sounds of highly energetic performances could be heard throughout every venue, but at Fríkirkjan, UK post rock artist Daughter had the audience in complete silence.
Daughter has become increasingly popular in the indie rock world over the last year with the release of her EP in 2011 entitled The Wild Youth. The impeccable and whimsical vocals of singer Elena Tonra had the audience at a standstill. The strums from Elena’s acoustic driven melodies developed a surreal and beautiful experience as her crisps vocals echoed throughout the old walls of Fríkirkjan. However, her gentle voice painted stories of dark subject matter projecting grim images of setting fire to people’s insides (“Youth“) and killing no good cheating boyfriends. “Love” was a song during the act that channeled the most spiritual experience. Eyes were closed as heads swayed back and forth from the sweet melodies of Tonra’s honest voice. Every now and then the set would transition from intimate and soft guitar melodies to highly rhythmic and pounding heavy drums. Tonra’s truthful performance had the audience in an intense state of personal reflection and contemplation. It was as if everyone was pondering about memories of their own that they wanted to remember or quite possibly, forget. The warm candle lights of the Fríkirkjan church provided an ethereal experience for Airwavers that night, and it is a moment I will never forget.
The small pub styled ÞÝSKI BARINN / DEUTSCHE BAR filled up fast around 1 a.m. for Austria’s Elektro Guzzi, a band that knows how to party. The band set the audience into a 20-minute riveting non-stop dance party. The guitarist and the bassist were hooked up to what appeared to be processors, which changed the anticipated sounds of their instruments into a variety of distorted drones, electro high pitch shrills, and fuzz.
The drummer’s strong performance guided and shaped the dance moves of the audience, who couldn’t stop moving their bodies to the funky beats of Elektro Guzzi’s techno. Without the fluff of laptop tricks and MPC pads, Elektro Guzzi’s forceful and technical beats were quite powerful. The trio let their music speak for itself as no vocal work appeared on the variety of beats they played during the set, and honestly, it would have been a shame if they did.
As the set progressed, each song became raw and dirtier than the last. The heavily energetic combination of harsh drums and noise created sounds that made feet grind, pound, and shake the floors of the venue. The sounds of samba, rock, and electro could be heard in the bands gritty beats. Sweat flew from the drummers face as he closed his eyes and played as hard as he could. Every now and then the drummer would look at his bandmates for confirmation and the beats would elevate in their intensity and approach. The guitarist and bassist toyed around with the processors below their feet developing quirky and wild noises to complement the drummer in his state of euphoria. The place was heated up and it took a while for the temperature to be back to normal from Elektro Guzzi ‘s upbeat performance. Saturday night at Airwaves was fantastic, showcasing a plethora of inspiring, hopeful, and successful talent. It was truly a great way to end my experience at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival.