Nothing Rhymes With Reykjavik

October 22, 2007

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


Of crazy Icelanders and… Montreal

October 20, 2007

Blood Group - © Gary WolstenholmeTime for an update… last night we saw a lot of decent stuff including some top Icelandic talent which, after all, is the point of a festival like this. For all their respective qualities, you can see bands like Bloc Party or Bonde Do Role every other week at your local venue – Mr Silla & Mongoose or Bloodgroup, on the other hand… not so likely.

Although maybe soon, particularly in the latter case: think Hadouken fronted by a teenage, geeky Madonna. In these heady New Rave days we apparently live in, their sound is so now – at least as far as shortsighted majors with bottomless budgets are concerned – they should be snapped up by the time you’ve read this blog. File under: party band.

Mr. Silla & Mongoose were impressive in a different way. An Icelandic boy-girl duo who deal in minimalist electro blues (a more sensitive Kills? Possibly), their set was the perfect early evening warm up. The singer’s voice? Fantastic. Her looks? None too shabby either. Joined by a trumpet player for the last couple of songs, which was nice.

What wasn’t nice was having to queue for ages to get into the DiS show to watch Deerhoof. But it’s our venue! Anyway, we got in eventually and it was certainly the hot ticket of the evening: we spotted both Kele and Matt Bloc Party as well as various members of Grizzly Bear among the audience. Good taste guys.

Of Montreal - © Gary WolstenholmeOf Montreal were the night’s headliners in the art museum. No need for too much detail here, they’re a band who should be familiar to many DiS readers. This was the first time we’d caught them live and they didn’t disappoint at all. The costumes were awesome too, particularly the singer’s gimp-cum-medusa mask.

Afterwards we found ourselves locked away in a grotty local pub that stayed open way after closing time with some, um, Icelandic nutjobs. They bought us whiskey, and at eight pounds per shot that makes them okay in our book. Even if one did insist on showing us his six inch blade and offering to ‘acquire’ a car to give us a guided tour. Strange times.

It’s this half of the team’s last night (sob) and lineup wise it’s clash central: !!! vs Bloc Party vs Chromeo (argh!), and Annuals vs Bonde Do Role – suggestions?

Rob x

That Friday feeling

October 19, 2007

So my laptop’s wireless connection decided to give up the ghost and I haven’t been online since we arrived, but thankfully Shain has been keeping the blog fire burning. Last night this half of the DiS reporting team got rather lost (tip: if you have no sense of direction, don’t stray from the beaten track) and missed a fair bit of stuff.

Sign - © Gary WolstenholmeI did, however, catch Best Fwends on the Moshi Moshi stage and wished I hadn’t bothered, stumbled into some Skid Row aping Icelanders (Sign) who were actually pretty fun and the really rather nice Grizzly Bear. One song of The Bronx proved one too many, but Late Of The Pier were good in a Klaxons-lite sort of way.

Lots of great stuff tonight, Of Montreal and Deerhoof are DiS’ picks. We are excited. But not hungover. Definitely not.

Rob x

Quick Update…

October 19, 2007

Grizzly BearHello,

We paced ourselves last night and saw more than on Thursday. DiS split up to cover as much of the festival as possible. Grizzly Bear were experimental, droney, dreary and beautiful as they headlined the largest and best venue, the Reykjavik Art Museum. The band has amassed the most pedals and doo-dads DiS has seen in ages. Had to have been two square metres of em on stage. Insane.

Boys in a Band, a quartet from the Faroe Islands that sound more-or-less like everyone else was enjoyed, as was local indie-outfit We Made God. In addition, Olof Arnolds strummed an acoustic guitar while singing needlessly high-pitched Icelandic folk ditties. She sings in Mum as well. One song was nice. Five or six was aggravating. Regardless, mum is highly looked forward too tonight. They play at the Art Museum. Oh, and The Duke Spirit played too. We missed it.

It was busier yesterday, warmer too. Feels a bit like being in Leeds on an overcast day. Bulky jackets have been replaced by wool jumpers. Quite nice. We also went to this party sponsored by Iceland Air. It was odd. It was like walking into a sexy airport of sorts, where instead of being checked by security, a cute girl spanked you and gave you a beer. And another beer. And another. You get the point. Bags were filled with the stuff for today. We’re smart we are.

Lots of music on tap tonight. Of Montreal, the aforementioned mum, Loney Dear and our own night, the DiS sponsored fest at Guakkerinn. Deerhoof (ace!) is headlining with Jakobinarina, Reykjavik! and Sudden Weather Change supporting. Appearances will be made, beer will be drunk. You know, the usual.

Gary has taken some lovely pictures. Some will be posted soon; shoddy internet connection to blame.


DiS x

Why Can’t I Sleep In?

October 18, 2007

Reykjavik Cathedral - © Gary WolstenholmeCan’t figure this out, really. Went to bed at 3AM and up at 8AM. On the dot. Without an alarm. Sigh.

So here we are at Iceland Airwaves. The music began last night at a few of the venues, and to be honest, not much of it seen is worth writing about. The bread and butter begins tonight with Grizzly Bear (a DiS favourite), the lovely Friendly Fires, Kira Kira, Slow Club and a slew of in-store performances. We did see Seabear and Skakkamanage last night at a party littered with vodka and fizzy red stuff, and both were quite nice. Innocuous, playful music. The rest however, from what returns to the memory was passable. There were a few acts missed because of long queues to get inside overpacked clubs that received rave reviews, so here are their MySpace pages:

– Naflakusk – (teenage pop choir)

– Mugsefjun- (Icelandic Arcade Fire, apparently)

Today DiS decided to check out Reykjavik’s famous thermal pools. It is interesting to walk outside in your pants and hop into a steamy, egg-smelling bath heated by volcanoes bubbling away underneath. It was wonderful, especially for one DiS’er who found a way to pull his groin on a light stroll yesterday. Too much time watching the ducks instead of the road, we guess.

Oh, and we met a girl named Osk last night. And it is raining right now. That is all.


x DiS

(P.S. – we played tourist and took a nice picture of the countryside. It’s too gorgeous not to share)

Here Early…

October 17, 2007

No music yet, soon enough my dear, but DiS decided a little vacation was in order.  Therefore, part of the DiS team arrived in Iceland a few days before Airwaves begins. The first bands are scheduled to begin at 5PM today. It is 11AM. It is going to be a long, chilly day indeed.

Iceland is a unique place. The landscape is unlike any other, and no trip here is complete with seeing some of it. That is why a car was procured yesterday to see what locals and tourists alike call ‘The Golden Circle’.  It consists of some geysers, the site of the world’s first parliament and a massive waterfall within about four hours drive of Reykjavik.

Other than that, we’re walking around a lot, drinking expensive pints (6 quid, right?) and buying odd Icelandic woolies, jumpers and mitts to keep the bodies and minds warm. It’s cold here. Very cold. Colder than last year.

Until tomorrow, when there will be much to report.

x DiS

DiS @ Iceland Airwaves 2007

October 17, 2007

Welcome to the Iceland Airwaves 2007 blog. Our intrepid reporting team (that’s Rob Webb and Shain Shapiro scribbling, Gary Wolstenholme snapping*) will be bringing you all the action from Reykjavik, where Iceland Airwaves 2007 kicks off later on today.

The hunt for new Icelandic talent is, of course, well and truly on – there’s plenty of it playing over the four days we’re here – but seeing the likes of !!!, Grizzly Bear, Late Of The Pier, Slow Club and Annuals in these surroundings is enough to warm the cockles.

And there’s a DiS stage on Thursday too. Deerhoof are playing on it. Rumour has it I might be allowed to pick records. That, my friends, is all pet wettingly ace news.

Bye for now, I’ve got a plane to catch.

Rob x

* that’s taking pictures, not getting angry. Although if he drinks as much Jagermeister as he did on the first night at Hove in the summer…

PS. Here’s a video of Deerhoof, ‘cos I’m nice like that…