Iceland Airwaves Day Three (11/7): Arstíðir, The Anatomy of Frank, Farao (Review)

Day three is going down as the windiest day of my life so far. According to The Weather Channel, the wind in Reykjavík was at an average of 29mph. Honestly, it felt like a lot more than that. As my classmates and I were walking around the city, we found ourselves forced to a stop or falling on our butts from the strength of these gusts. We thought we were equipped for whatever Reykjavík would have to throw at us, being from ‘the windy city’ and all, but today proved all of us wrong. The silver lining: the too-strong-for-us wind made for the perfect day to finish a culture story and take care of the last interviews. In other words, it was a prime day to be productive.

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Screenshot of a windy video

Arstíðir played at Harpa Norðurljós at 12:20am, which seemed like a strange pairing. A late night show with a band that plays pretty mellow, folky music? Turned out that the match couldn’t have been better – with their entrancing, engaging sound, the crowd ate it up. It helped that the band talked to the audience throughout the show, a trait adapted because they all took the reigns of ‘lead singer’ at least once throughout the set. Arstíðir had a stage presence that was so demanding of your attention, it made talking (or even thinking) about anything else difficult. The sound quality they brought with them was much better than any other show that has been at Harpa Norðurljós so far at Airwaves, and that made it possible for them to really show the crowd what they can do with the stringed instruments. The last song of the set was “You Again,” which was recently released as a music video. “You Again” seemed to be the crowd favorite of the evening. If you’re not able to see Arstíðir any time soon, check out their World Café session – it’ll give you a taste as to what you’re missing.

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Arstíðir at Harpa Norðurljós / 7 Nov 2014

The Anatomy of Frank played at off-venue  Bar 11. The group of five guys had an amazing connection with the audience; they were able to get the entire crowd to sing with them at the very end, and were so entertaining in the banter that so many musicians seem to forget about. Even when they were calling out the crowd for being lazy, which would normally be annoying, it was light-hearted and entertaining. The venue itself, Bar 11 is a great place to hear bands play; the acoustics are great, the atmosphere gives you the grungy bar-feel without actually being too grungy, and it’s a cozy little place. Maybe a little too cozy for The Anatomy of Frank, since it was hard to get through the door, let alone get a halfway decent picture. It will be interesting to see what happens with the group in years to come.

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The Anatomy of Frank at Bar 11 / 6 Nov 2014

The evening of great music continued on with Farao at Harpa Norðurljós, an act that has been anticipated since March of this year, and she disappointed in no way. Even though she’s from Norway, all of her currently released music was recorded here in Iceland. After she shared that tidbit, the crowd seemed to warm up just a hair more – even though there wasn’t much more warming up that was needed. With a voice so entrancing and haunting, it was hard to believe she could be even more engaging with the eye contact she made with the members of the audience. It felt like she was singing directly to you, even though the venue was completely full of 20-something-year-olds. It was easy to see she was comfortable with the music, but also a little bit nervous and possibly a little star-struck from the festival experience itself. The best part of the experience was the silence, though. It’s always refreshing when the crowd is quiet and polite, and Farao certainly made it easy to do so.

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Farao at Harpa Norðurljós / 7 November 2014

It’s hard to believe that this experience of Iceland Airwaves is already half over, and I’m definitely not ready for it to come to an end anytime soon. As always, excited to see what tomorrow will bring! Stay tuned.

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