Tag Archives: Amsterdam

Iceland Airwaves Day Four: Alunageorge, Kimono, Árni2, Kajak (11/2)

After John Grant‘s sarcastic lyrical experience, it was time for the much-anticipated AlunaGeorge at Harpa Silfurberg.

This British electric pop duo, consisting of the beautiful Aluna Fransis on vocals and the production stylings of George Reid, has been popping out a lot of hits the past year.  Surprisingly the venue was relatively empty at first, but sure enough by the third song the place got packed.  Their live show certainly did not disappoint.  With upbeat electric backings and a well-honed stage presence, this act was fun to watch as well as dance to.  The performance truly went off without a hitch and will probably be one of the most concise acts playing at Iceland Airwaves this year.

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*AlunaGeorge

After some heavy grooving at AlunaGeorge, I ran over to catch Kimono at Harlem.  This three-piece indie rock band had phenomenal driving drums, which is probably their strongest suit.  It was interesting to see a bass guitar played with a big wooden stick.  If you go to this show it is a possibility that a complete stranger will come up to you and suck on your earlobe for a song or two, and maybe even bite you on the shoulder.

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*Kimono

At the end of the night I flew across the street to Amsterdam to see Árni2, because who doesn’t need some more deep house in their lives?

The DJ group consisting of Árni Valur and Árni Grétar (of Futuregrapher) hits you hard right in the face with the classic low booming bass of the deep house genre against a backdrop of minimalist ambiance and trance-like arpeggios.  It was a very intimate show and when the concert goers weren’t dancing, they were shaking hands and bumping knucks with the two performers.  This show was a lot of fun and everyone was getting down.

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*Árni2

The next morning we all pried ourselves from our warm beds after only a few hours of sleep to go on Iceland’s renowned Golden Circle Tour.  We saw geysers, trenches, rivers, waterfalls, and I even climbed a mountain!

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*Atop a mountain on the Golden Circle Tour

After months of trading emails with Moni and Hreinn, it was time to see Kajak at Harlem and I had very high hopes for this group.  They came through with flying colors.  This band has almost no definable genre and are innovative and unlike anything you will hear at Airwaves, or anywhere else for that matter.  Instrumentation of this band included great beats produced on a drum machine, a synthesizer, and an Indian Tabla drum.  The cousin’s dual vocals, high energy, and earthly visualization make this group a blast to see, especially in an intimate setting like Harlem.

After the show I got a chance to speak with Kajak backstage and set up an interview at Harpa to get some insight on where their totally unique songs come from.  Stay tuned for a preview of what is to come from this interview clip.

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*Backstage with Hreinn (Right)  and Moni (Left) of Kajak

That’s all from Andrew on this very long yet amazing day at Iceland Airwaves ’13.

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Iceland Airwaves Day Four: F****d Up, Epic Rain, Boogie Trouble, In The Company Of Men, Angist (11/2)

I’m going to start this post off with a continuation of last night’s happenings, so I guess this should be titled “Iceland Airwaves Day Three, Part Two.” Here’s why.

1.) I got to see F****d Up at Harpa Norðurljós around 00:30 last night. And they were incredible. Great pit, tight melodies, and a a phenomenal performance with plenty of stage dives and screaming.

2.) Karaoke! And not just any karaoke, karaoke complete with brilliant post-show silly-fun performances from various Airwaves artists including Daníel Bjarnason  and his orchestra, and Mariam The Believer. “Hit Me Baby One More Time” never looked and sounded so great.

So that leads me to this morning. We all woke up far too early and hopped on a bus to take us on The Golden Circle Tour. Feeling groggy and exhausted was worth it though, because we got to see some incredible sights.

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We got back to Reykjavík around 5:00, which seemed like a reasonable excuse to go out and get some grub. And to my most wonderful and delicious surprise, Michelle and I found a Mexican restaurant!

When we were seated at a table, our waiter came up and asked if we were “familiar with Mexican food.” Uh. Of course we are! Seems like kind of an obvious question. But then we realized that to most people who walked into that restaurant, the answer to that question would be “no.” We were given a menu made of a torn piece of cardboard that listed four items only: tacos, tostadas, flautas, and a burrito. The waiter then informed me they were “out of flautas.”

Thinking in terms of how a typical Mexican restaurant in Pilsen works, how could one “run out” of flautas, yet still have other menu items that contained the same ingredients? it was then that we realized this was not your typical mexican food. I ordered a burrito and Michelle got tostadas.

Michelle’s food was pretty standard. Put together just as any other Mexican restaurant would. But my burrito contained chicken, potatoes, and garlic on the inside, with a slice of avocado on top, red and green salsa, and a side of rice and lettuce. It was delicious! But I’m not sure about it as Mexican food…

The first band of the night for me was Epic Rain (20:50 @ Hressó). They could best be described as a performance rap duo with eerie circus-y beats. Reminiscent of a side show. Their lyrics were witty and haunting, and they were only enhanced by their scratchy voices. It was ultra fun. They put on one hell of a show. They were fascinating to watch, and very interactive with their audience. And they threw just the right amount of confetti.

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After that I caught Boogie Trouble at the same venue (21:40). They are a funky, 70’s bunch with a strong female lead singer and a groovy band to hold the show. They were marvelous. And their cover of Toxic was even better than Britney (There are a lot of people showing up Britney in this blog…)

Once I was all boogied out, I headed over to Amsterdam to catch In The Company Of Men (23:20). I couldn’t believe my good luck: this would make three fantastic shows in a row. These guys had amazing energy. Each member carried the band, instead of just the lead singer taking the spotlight, as is so often the case. The guitarist grabbed a mic and introduced the next song: “This song is called ‘Karate Kicks and High Fives. It’s about karate kicking and high five-ing your friends.” And blam! they were playing, fast and furious. They would take turns setting down their equipment and coming into the pit to dance. Sometimes they just took their instruments with them….

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I was so pumped up from the In The Company of Men show! Then came the fourth, and final band of the evening, Angist (1:10 @ Amsterdam). To be frank, I was disappointed. I was initially drawn to this band from a recording I’d heard of their fierce black metal sound. And the female lead singer’s voice shocked and awed me. But seeing them perform live was a bummer. They were low energy, and really didn’t get the crowd moving. If you closed your eyes, their sound seemed on point. But when you opened them, you would see a tired performance, and a tired, amused-at-best audience to match.

So my final show of the evening was a bust, and that kind of got me down. I walked home exhausted, and stopped by the hot dog stand for a pick-me-up. Munching on that hot dog as I strolled down the road, I happened to look up and catch a glimpse of brilliantly green Northern lights snaking through the sky. And that made everything just wonderful again.

Iceland Airwaves Day Two: FM Belfast, The Wicked Strangers, Caveman (10/31)

Getting lost in a new city is a great way to learn about it, and I learned a lot about Iceland today. Day two was all about the music and like a drop of water in a hot pan (the hot pan in this metaphor being Iceland which, I admit, makes very little sense if you think about it too hard), we scurried off frantically in separate directions to meet our interview contacts.

First were The Wicked Strangers who chatted with me about their raw, rock sensibilities and the power of being in front of a screaming crowd, before proving it later that night on the stage at Amsterdam. After a few more interviews I stopped to try an Icelandic cheeseburger. We had Icelandic hotdogs yesterday, delicious lamb-beef sausages that snap perfectly with each bite, which were served with aioli, sweet mustard, and fried onions. Even first thing in the morning there is a line and it only grows throughout the night. Icelandic cheeseburgers are pretty darn good as well. Mine was served with a tartar-like sauce instead of mayo, and topped with a fried egg, mushrooms and barbecue sauce.

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….And then it was back to the music. As night fell the streets filled up with people, some with a destination in mind, others like the pied piper’s gang, simply following the sounds of distant music.

FM Belfast

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The eclectic electro group FM Belfast was a treat to behold. Their show took place at Harpa, a beautiful, modern architectural marvel that houses multiple venues and was packed to bursting with raving fans. However FM Belfast knew exactly what to give them, with pulsing bass and competing poly rhythms they had the whole place jumping. Their music reminds me a lot of the dance sensibilities of MGMT with two vocalist, male and female, whose chants and shouts elevated the music and gave a bunch of room to change-up their sound. While it was all cohesive, no two songs sounded the same. Streamers, toilet paper and even the whole band stripped to their underwear on their song of the same name, which made the show feel like a dance club version of the Blue Man Group.

The Wicked Strangers

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The Wicked Strangers proved that rock is alive and well in Iceland. Pounding drums, heavy guitar riffs and of course lead singer Gunnar’s raw, captivating voice took the whole venue by storm. The vocals were incredible and the pure energy the band displayed, jumping into the crowd and dragging people forward, was infectious.  Stay tuned for more about The Wicked Stranger in my upcoming interview with the band.

Caveman

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Last were American indie rockers Caveman. Percussion heavy, ethereal rock soaked in synths, filled the auditorium and made the crowd move. Many songs had lead singer Matthew Iwanusa, pounding a tom and belting along simultaneously. An emotional ride, the show switched between slower plodding melodies and more upbeat percussion driven tunes. It’s the kind of music that makes you feel like your being lifted up on a wave of fuzzy, warm, melodies and carries you along.

More to come with Iceland Airwaves day three!