Nothing Rhymes With Reykjavik

Reykjavik Skyline - © Gary WolstenholmeWell, two days to report here and not much time. The flight takes off in a few hours and it is very late, but lots to recount and the rest of DiS has gone home, so here goes. Last night was the most ambitious musically, and as conflict is the name of the game at Airwaves, DiS did not see as much as we wanted to.

Amiina began the night at 6PM in a small Church near the city pond. The show was quiet, tranquil, impressively well rehearsed and beguiling. The songs meandered through the atmosphere like weather patterns. It was divine.

After that, we had dinner, stockpiled some cheap but powerful booze in small containers and hit the town. Beer is expensive here (5 quid a pint), so bringing booze for the ride is the best bet in Iceland. It is what the locals keep telling us anyways. I began my night with Vedis at Lido (it’s like a wedding hall in a conference centre), a singer songwriter who ran through a lovely but innocuous set of folk and blues. The girl I was with sang with her in grade school, so it was nice ‘being a local’ for a moment. Ultra Mega Techno Band Stefan followed in the bigger and busier Guakkerinn, the place where ‘our night’ was held the night before. The band has a cult following in Iceland by combining trance, excess and comedy into a live show like little other. Really, you have to see this band. In every sense of the word, they are insane. Mentally unstable. Scary even. It was good fun indeed. Much of the set was played off an iPod though (same for Mum and a smattering of other bands), which depleted the fervor but did not extinguish it. The set was great.

The conflict and questionable scheduling made us miss certain bands (sorry Seabear and Benni Hemm Hemm), but I did catch up with Mugison, Annuals, and a little Bloc Party. Where to start? Well, Mugison was oversold and uncomfortable, but musically serene. The man is an icon of sorts up here. There is an ad of him on a horse in the country advertising the national airline. Nuff said.

Bloc Party performing at Reykjavik Art Museum - © Gary WolstenholmeAnnuals was predictably wonderful, but Bloc Party was not. They took pretension and sonic garbage to heaping new heights. After telling the crowd they should be more appreciative that the band finally made it to Iceland, the tiresome quartet launched into restrained versions of their standards, like ‘Hunting For Witches’ and ‘So Here We Are’. It was all so contrived. I did used to like this band. Ah well; I left after seven songs.

A little FM Belfast and Dr. Spock ended the evening. Members of mum – who were quite rubbish the other night unfortunately (note above) – joined FM Belfast and made up for their lackluster set with some fantastic trance-rich dance rock. Dr. Spock was much like the Ultra Mega guys; there is something in the water here that turns people crazy, and Dr. Spock drink a lot of water. Imagine rock, metal, costumes, lots of sweat, jumping, screaming etc…

DiS also found the cheapest place in town for pints. 3.90! What a steal! The beer is terrible, but we downed it like it was free. In Iceland, 3.90 is close enough to free. Apologies, my Mac does not have the pound sign.

Today was spent in the wilderness mostly. With Rob, Raz and Gary safely in the UK, I went for a hike with a friend about ninety minutes south-west of town. She took me up a mountain dotted with sheep and horses to see some glacial hot springs. Iceland is straight out of lord of the rings. I find it odd that a pot of boiling water can emerge out of the ground, which means that there is a gigantic bubbling pot of water directly under us at all times. The suggestion to bring pasta was laughed at. I thought it was a good idea.

After coming back to Reykjavik and cleaning up from the hike, I went to see the ‘special’ show sponsored by Coke. And the surprise band is, wait for it, The Magic Numbers. I really enjoyed ‘I See You, I See Me.’

The night ended with hearing Buck 65 from outside a venue I couldn’t get it and settling for Cut Off Your Hands, who failed to impress. It is also raining again.

Back home tomorrow to begin the full write-up. We’ll also show you all the pictures Gary took. He took a lot. Promises all around.

Till Then,

Shain x

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