Tag Archives: John Grant

Iceland Airwaves Day Three (11/7): Thus Owls, Kira Kira & Eskmo (REVIEW)

To finish off night two of Airwaves, Thus Owls, a band hailing from Montreal, Canada, brought down Iðnó with its heavy beats and dramatic sounds. The five-piece group used several techniques and instruments unique to them. For instance, to kick off the set, guitar player, Simon Angell used a toothbrush and sponge to strum on his guitar, providing an eerie feel to the licks he produced. Erika Angell, singer of the group and wife to Simon pulled out a country harp and gave the music an ambient feel. One song they played that held particular significance was “Island.” Husband and wife, Simon and Erika said that they wrote the song while on their honeymoon in Iceland six years prior to this engagement. It did the country justice in a way that it put into perspective the vast amount of mystery hidden both outside of the city and within. The band overall sounded great however, for that venue they were much too loud. Simon also ended up breaking one of his guitar strings mid-song, but he recovered gracefully and without any interruption in the sound.

To start off day three of Iceland I went to the Ölgerðin Brewery to speak with two brew masters on the culture of beer and history of prohibition in Iceland.

Continue reading Iceland Airwaves Day Three (11/7): Thus Owls, Kira Kira & Eskmo (REVIEW)

Iceland Airwaves Day Three: Sólstafir, Young Fathers, Magnoose, John Grant (11/4)

After Temple rocked my world, I thought it might be time to kick it up a notch and head to my first metal show of Iceland AirwavesSólstafir at Harpa Norðurljós.

Sólstafir is an Icelandic, downtempo, metal-esque band, with notes of ambient rock.  One of the guitarist seems to be always wearing a cowboy hat, which fits into their dusty, leather clad appearance.  The band consists of two guitars, one bass guitar, and a drum set.  Their songs tend to be a bit longer than the average song, however they are very well thought out and progress very well to a noteworthy climax.  This show can be enjoyed by anyone, even those who do not typically like metal music, as it is very dialed back with catchy hooks and great instrumentals.


After Sólstafir I made my way to Gamli Gaukurinn to see Young Fathers from Scotland.

This group was pleasantly unique for a number of reasons.  The Airwaves website describes Young Fathers an “Afro-futuristic psychedelic hip-hop boy-band” which may sound made up, but actually is completely accurate.  Talk about a band that is all over the place…in a very good way.  This performance showcases displays of hip-hop, rock, electro, R&B, and rap against the backdrop of a super laid back reggae beat.  There are three vocalists in the band and they all serve a different role, either rapping, singing, or providing some backup flair.  This group is a lot of fun if you want to strap on your boogie shoes and bust a move.

After the shows were done I met up with some local Icelanders and was invited back to their apartment in the 107 to hang out for a bit.  They were all fantastic and very receptive of my very American inquiries.  On the way there we even saw a bit of the northern lights, and while they were not as phenomenal as they might have been away from the city lights, they we still remarkable.

After making many new friends over in Reykjavík’s 107 area, I decided to make my way back to the hotel for some sleep and on the way back I found a very old graveyard.  This was one of the creepiest I have ever seen, but how often are you in Iceland for Halloween?  I walked along the well lit path bisecting the graveyard and on each side the headstones trailed off into sheer blackness.  I tried walking off the main path, but even I, bravest of the brave, got too scared to stay in the darkness with all the ghosts.


After a goodnight’s sleep and a day of adventures to see Iceland’s street art it was time to see Magnoose at Harlem.

Magnnose was a refreshing deep house act and a key part oversees of the house movement  which is sweeping the world internationally.  With blurred visuals of normal people interacting in intimate settings, it is remarkable to see a house artist this good so far from where house music was invented.  Chicagoans will be surprised to hear these chill deep beats so far away from home and probably also could not help strapping on their boogie shoes and testing out a few new moves.

After getting down at Harlem I found my way back to Harpa Silferberg to see a much anticipated artist, John Grant of Midlake, preforming solo.

This man is a lyrical genius with stanzas of wonderful sarcasm presented in a way that hits a listener more genuinely than they might like to admit.  The back up band provided rock beats with elements of electronic from time to time.  Really proud to say this act is from America.


*Taken in Lucky Records

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.



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.



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.



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!


*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.


*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.