Iceland Airwaves 2013 Day Two: Momentum, Caveman, Hjaltalin, Jagwar Ma (10/31)

“You were in Newark? There’s nothing to do in Newark but get murdered… Are you going to Jagwar Ma?” – “Ronnie”

It took several attempts to wake up today, the physical toll of layovers, jet lag, swimming and a Dr Spock show had left me running on empty by the time I finally layed my head down. On the third attempt, I snapped awake, a quick cold shower prepared me for the day ahead. On the trip to Prikid I was surrounded by many of the shopping offerings that were oblivious to me during the first Reykjavík walk. Formal wear, record stores and a novelty shop named Hocus Pocus, just to name a few. Throw in a couple of gambling bars and a bar inspired by the Big Lebowski and you might as well have proposed me a time share.

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It seems so simple when you see it painted on a building.

Once I arrived at  Prikið, I found superior coffee and informative conversation, Laufey Steingrímsdóttir met me for lunch and allowed me to pick her brain and, as it turns out, she was the mother of Moses Hightower. No sooner than she had made her exit that the band Mono Town sat down at table where we discussed the momentum that is carrying this exciting Reykjavík band towards the release of their debut album, Into The Eye Of The Storm. It wouldn’t be my last encounter with Mono Town as I would later watch the band at the Kex Hostel for their off venue performance broadcast by KEXP. If Mono Town’s Iceland Airwaves performances  follow the trend set by Caveman’s KEX & Iceland Airwaves’ performances, I will be left with little doubt that The Pixies picked the perfect addition to the Nordic leg of their current tour.  After congregating at Dolly with the rest of the Iceland Airwaves crew, it was time for another batch of live music.

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Mono Town at KEX Hostel

Momentum at Harpa Norðurljós

Orchestrated in a fashion that would put Maynard James Keaton on notice, Momentum pulverized every ear in drum in the criminally small crowd, then again, only the lucky have gotten to experience the majestic qualities of a triple rainbow. In this case the triple rainbow was in the form of a band clad in black that ignited a modest sea of head banging and passionate are guitar. The longhairs were left shaking their locks to the breaking point while everyone else flexed their neck muscles. If the wind of Reykjavík is a sucker punch, Momentum is the right hook.

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Momentum melting faces.

Caveman at Reykjavík Art Museum

Caveman took the stage at the for the most crowded show that this reviewer has yet to experience at Iceland Airwaves thus far, and the packed venues was well deserved. The band worked their way through a set of catchy and accessible tracks showcasing a proficiency for indie rock songwriting that was a sharp as their on stage outfits.  In the absence of Grizzly Bear, Caveman easily compensated with their batch of songs that were both incredibly melodic and well orchestrated.

Hjaltalin at Harpa Silfurberg

Hjaltalin brought a mixture of a driving rhythm section coupled with hammering keys, minimalist electronica and bursts of viola interjections. Frontman Sigríður Thorlacius’ vocals carried the ensemble worthy of the tight squeeze provided by an abundance of fans that packed the venue. The lights flared in sync with the spurts of electronica, guaranteeing that any averting gaze quickly returned to the stage. Hjaltalin left the delighted crowd bobbing and swaying as if they were ships in the bay that waited right outside.

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Hjaltalin casting a haze

Jagwar Ma at Reykjavík Art Musuem

Jagwar Ma is what Tame Impala would have been if the band had neglected the late ’60s British invasion and instead ingested every pill, thrill, and bellyache of the late ’80s/early ’90s U.K. Madchester scene. The band wasted no time diving into their 2013 release Howlin.  Heavy doses of rave quality electronica synced up with psychedelic guitar that concocted enough heat-generating gyration to fog the nearest windows. Pulsation came out of every light and speaker as the set went on with each song building towards the designated one or two minute break down that drove the crowd into utter madness.

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Jagwar Ma making the sweat pour

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