Iceland Airwaves Day Three: Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band, Grísalappalísa, Daníel Bjarnson (11/1)

I slept through the delicious, complimentary hotel breakfast this morning. And I would’ve felt guilty about missing out on free Skyr and cocktail weenies, but I got six whole hours of sleep ! SIX! I am more well rested now than I have been, or will be on this trip.

We all met up around 11:00 at The Sea Baron for some killer lobster soup, and then split to go our own separate ways. I ended up meandering around the city and finding some incredible graffiti.

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I also stumbled into some rad off-venue shows. There was Adrian Crowley playing in Lucky Records, with Young Hearts Run Free, a collective from Ireland.

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It was a nice, intimate setting and the artist seemed very at-home. His music was gentle and calming, best paired with a cup of coffee and a cat on your lap.

Down the street a ways was Loji, playing in Jör, which typically functions as an upscale men’s suit shop.

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I walked in the middle of their set, just in time to hear the lead singer inform the crowd that the next song they were going to play his mom had written the lyrics for. Unfortunately, his mom couldn’t make it to Airwaves to see them play because she was “at home knitting.” Needless to say this was a fun, playful band with an easy going, indie sound.

By that point, I was ravenous, so I stopped by Prikid and ordered a “Chicago Club.” It had chicken, bacon, guacamole, and other standard sandwich toppings, like lettuce and tomato. So I guess that’s what everyone in Iceland thinks Chicagoans eat. And in observing my dietary habits back home, that wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

At 20:00, I attempted to get into the Múm show, but they had reached capacity, and there was a large crowd of hopefuls outside, just waiting for someone to leave so they could enter. So I wandered over to Harpa Silfurberg to catch the tail end of Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band. I am sad I missed the first half of the show, because what little I saw was incredibly impressive. Tight harmonies with a strong brass section, they were extremely talented and well rehearsed. Everyone in the room was dancing as the conductor/leader 0f the pack of wild musicians jumped and waved his arms about. Band members wore colorful African shirts, and clearly enjoyed the music they were making.

But oh. My. God. Ohmigawd. Grísalappalísa (21:40 @ Gamli Gaukurinn) was amazing. Here is a band who knows how to have fun. The saxophone player was rocking out. The lead guitarist handed his guitar over to the audience midway through the show and the lead singer came out to dance with the audience every other song. The music they played was high energy, and could probably best be categorized as pop-punk-rock.

yes, it is blurry. It's hard to take a picture and dance around at the same time.
yes, it is blurry. It’s hard to take a picture and dance around at the same time.

Things got a little calmer after that over at Harpa Kaldalón around 23:20, where Daníel Bjarnson and a small orchestra performed some of his compositions. It was beautiful music, skillfully played. The melodies were experimental, and toyed with a variety of sounds and instruments. Daniel Bjarnson’s compositions were dark yet playful, calm and odd, with a strong performance from everyone onstage.

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