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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.




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.


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….


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.


Covering International Festivals: Iceland 2012

This past fall 2012, ten students under the direction Althea Legaspi from Columbia College Chicago, ventured to Reykjavík, Iceland, to cover the Iceland Airwaves music festival and dive into Icelandic culture.

Tune into WCRX 88.1 FM this Saturday, January, 26th, 2013, and listen to the final documentary of our experiences at the Iceland Airwaves festival and the collective stories from our trip to Reykjavík.


Iceland Airwaves Day Two: Low Roar, Angist, Atrum, Heavy Medical

The violent winds that consumed the past two days of Airwaves finally slowed to a safer tone right around the point Low Roar took the stage at Harpa Kaldalón, and rightly so. The sounds pumping through the room of steep stadium seats were cool hued, and sonically reminiscent of crisp breezes on a choppy and starlit ocean front.

Here’s the thing about Low Roar’s performance: it dynamically displayed a whole new side to an album that, in the recording, sounds very simple, serene and comforting. In a live setting, that comfort remains, but is kicked up a few notches to get lost in a flowing whirlwind of friendly haunts from layered synths and careful guitar strums. On Low Roar’s self-titled album, vocalist Ryan Karazija’s voice is a delicate and alluring string of coos and murmurs. But at Harpa Kaldalón, those coos turned to passionate cries and beautiful hums that reverberated throughout to create a hypnotic, gentle-giant of sound. Low Roar has proven to be able to take simple chord structures, handled with care, and produce a brilliance of refreshing synths, complex percussion, and longing vocals.

This relentless force of wind had blown debris and gravel into the faces of city walkers throughout Reykjavík. It took down signs, and created damage throughout the downtown area. The musical equivalent to this loud and raucous powerhouse would have to be Heavy Medical.

Heavy Medical

That’s right. The picture above shows not one, but two drum kits being slammed and shattered to the tune of a bass that’s so distorted, it seemed to be an uncontrollable beast of reverb. The noise rock effort from Philadelphia turned out to be quite the crowd pleaser at Amsterdam. There’s just something about the reckless and self-destructive manner of the group, featuring explosive, confronting vocals that is so delightfully addictive. Heavy Medical left the crowd in a state of intoxicated surprise and clamoring for more.

For the rest of the night, Amsterdam fell victim to some dark winds of change. Atrum and Angist, demonstrated their metal chops to seemingly regular fans.

Angist, an impending force of steady death metal with a dose of thrash, made great use of guttural screams from lead vocalist, Edda Tegeder Óskarsdóttir, Tumi Snær Gíslason’s crash cymbal annihilation and the angular riffing fromGyða Hrund Þorvaldsdóttir’s guitar.


Atrum displayed some more theatrics and drama in their performance, donning ghoulish face makeup and opening with an eerie choir track. Atrum are a very avant-garde style of metal with plenty of tricks up their sleeves as far as influence goes. At one moment, mid-range roars are composed and controlled and the next, we’re found to be in the middle of a fist pumping, triumphant chant.

Rattling double bass, snare blasting and heart palpitating panic chords were at times brought down for the inclusion of chunky, rhythmic elements that are reminiscent of contemporary metalcore which gave the band a sense of attitude and complex adventure.

To read more about Low Roar, check out the piece I did for the Reykjavík Grapevine about his experience of moving to a new country and starting a new musical project.