Iceland Airwaves: Day Three – Golden Circle, BOY, Vacationer and more

The fact that today was our last day in Iceland coincidentally happened to fly by, unlike the past few days. Both Thursday and Friday were full and entertaining, but with the lack of sleep it seemed for them to continue on forever. Now, that’s all Iceland Airwaves class of 2012 was wishing for is for it to last forever.

The day started early, 7 a.m. early, with a quick breakfast before the arrival of our bus tour that took us around the Golden Circle. The gorgeous highlight of a waterfall was breathtaking, the fact that something so powerful could make one feel so peaceful was incredible. Finally seeing what the countryside had to offer here in Iceland was an experience I’ll never forget.

After the tour and a quick nap, expanding the musical palette for our last night in Iceland had to happen.  Ending up at the venue Harpa Norðurljós once again, the anticipation for all the bands that were going to perform at this one venue was overwhelming.

Rökkurró played first, and was very enjoyable to listen to and watch. The lead singer’s voice was warm and inviting to the instruments that the band dissolved into their songs. Along with guitar and drums, this band incorporates classical piano and harmonies, forming layer after layer as the piece goes on.

Moving quickly to Harpa Silfurberg to catch Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band, time was on my side and they hadn’t started yet.  As soon as they stepped on stage they brought it. They consisted of a meaty big band sound, but performed with the passion for venues, not dancehalls. They were reminiscent of the band Chicago in ways, but with the use of instruments made for a sound that came from the ’40s, capturing a large musical range with the broadness of their instruments. Coming from a childhood where the big band sound prospered, it was nice to reminisce while they performed.

Making way back again to Harpa Norðurljós for the rest of the night, Asgeír Trausti happened to be the next artist I saw. His band formed an ambient and electronic background that he layered with his strong tenor vocals and acoustic guitar. Mix in harmonies from his bandmate and there’s more proof that the classical/electronic genre of music can collide to form something wonderful. After every song, the crowd went crazy for this Icelandic native, making him seem to be a hometown favorite.

Vacationer was amazing from the start of their set, jumping and moving around the stage as soon as the music started. Their bright ambient tones infused with samples, voice effects, and a bit of a poppy feel made this a band of the night. The lead singer Kenny Vasoli kept his pop/punk stage presence, but mixed it with his love for heavy electronic beats and groovy bass lines. Although it seemed the crowd didn’t know who he was before the set, his charismatic personality and free sprit seemed to win over fans.

The last set for the Harpa Norðurljós venue was closed by the band BOY. The two ladies didn’t have a drummer for this set, so the crowd was blessed with more of an acoustic sound. As soon as they came to the stage, the crowd started cheering, so much so that the lead singer Valeska Steiner, started to tear up. Each song they played felt almost like a private performance for those within the crowd. These ladies draped their vocals over a jazzy piano and acoustic guitars.  At the end of their set, the two women were recipients of what they said was their biggest encore ever.

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