Iceland Airwaves Day Three: Borko, Agent Fresco, Apparat Organ Quartet (11/1)

Today I woke up sore… Not in the British sense, but in the rocked-so-hard-my-bones-hurt sense. Nevertheless, with perhaps my busiest day ahead of me, two more interviews and a full night of fantastic shows, I hurried out towards The University Of Iceland for my first interview with Dr. Ólafur Þ. Harðarson, political science professor at the university, about creativity in politics.

The campus was stunning, especially to someone whose own university is in the heart of the city without a real campus to speak of. Dwarfed by beautiful Mount Esja, the university campus sits on the edge of the pond across from city hall.

After a quick bite, I finally had a chance to really explore Reykjavík and I found myself snapping photos and exploring side roads, many of which housed hidden shops and art galleries. One such side-road led me to a small bookstore where I found many relics from my childhood: Artemis Fowl, Captain Underpants, and lots and lots of Harry Potterall in Icelandic form. Speaking of things from my childhood I also found this:

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Yes, Batman is fantastic in Icelandic. Sorry, I mean Leðurblökumaðurinn, as he is known in Iceland. That name, according to the Icelandic Language Blog on Transparent Language is a compound of the Icelandic words leður which means “leather”, að blaka meaning “to flap” which together make the word leðurblaka meaning “bat” as well as maður which is the Icelandic word for man.

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Interestingly enough Superman is just Supermann.

Reykjavík is a city full of art. Statues, paintings, mosaics and street art dot the city like freckles, but Reykjavík has a few pimples as well.

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For every beautiful street art mural there is quite a bit of run-of-the-mill graffiti, sometimes plastered over more artistic works. Like the documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop about street artists such as the controversial British artist Banksy, the city confronts you with the universal question of what exactly constitutes a work of art.

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I guess pimples as well as tagging are just a by-product of youth and hormones. But back to art…there’s music to see.

Borko

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Borko took the stage at the Reykjavík Art Museum to a packed crowd. The music was fantastic, ranging from slow thoughtful pieces that build with the brass section, to uptempo folky indie rock tunes replete with reverb laden guitar hooks and of course the signature trumpet and trombone leads. Borko was the most emotional music I’ve seen here at Airwaves and the crowd responded passionately by chanting along. With all the electronic acts this year it was great to see and hear something totally different. The end of the show was a sight to behold. As the band worked themselves into a frenzy of noise, trumpet and trombone fully let loose, what seemed like every strobe light in Iceland fired full blast lighting the entire room. It was impressive how good the sound was balanced as well, easily the best sounding show I’ve seen so far.

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Agent Fresco

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Loud and dramatic, Agent Fresco is an Indie-Pop group with strong melodic vocals and grungy guitars. Switching between instruments on the fly and owning every second of their stage time, the group was incredibly fun to watch and the crowd absolutely loved it. Even so, it didn’t feel like they were putting on a show but rather exuding passion regardless of the response, which nevertheless was emphatically positive.

Apparat Organ Quartet 

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A real treat to see, the “organ wizards” Apparat Organ Quartet, a four piece electronic group made up of three organs and live drums delivered their brand of extremely danceable, keyboard driven pop-rock to the biggest crowd I’ve seen pack any venue since FM Belfast. All the music is played live by hand, an amazing feat to watch and while the band was fairly focused on the intricate melodies they created, the crowd more than made up for their lack of motion. The vocals were all sent through a vocoder, coming out sometimes sounding like a glitchy android others a choir of children. It was a bit disappointing that it was a little bit hard to hear everything as the music is an intricate blanket of interwoven organs, but all in all a really, really good show.

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What will day four bring to Airwaves? This is the place to find out.

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