(This is a guest from our good friend @PeteOlshansky)
It’s officially Autumn and for me that means gearing up for Iceland Airwaves music festival in Reykjavik. Held from November 5 – 9, music will essentially take over downtown Reykjavik for the week and there’s no escaping the tunes. If you’re music obsessed like I am, Airwaves is basically an early Christmas. If you aren’t aware, a quick Google image search will show you how beautiful Iceland is. Add a week of music and possibility of seeing the northern lights, and it’s no wonder this festival grows bigger every year. Beauty aside though, it’s the festival spirit that really sets Airwaves apart from the rest. There’s a feeling that anything can happen at Airwaves, and it just might. One minute you’re watching Sinéad O’Connor perform in a church and the next you’re at the American ambassador’s house eating rotten shark while someone plays Ol’ Dirty Bastard on the piano. Yes, that really did happen one year. But it’s Airwaves; of course it happened!
The Flaming Lips are the big headliner this year, and Sweden’s The Knife have announced that their appearance will be their last ever as a band. Son Lux will undoubtedly bring the house down during his set, and Mercury Prize nominee East India Youth is set to make an appearance on Saturday night. I’m excited to finally see Perfect Pussy and I’ve been told not to miss Australia’s psychedelic group King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. With a name like that, you kind of have to check them out, right?
To add to all this, there’s the off venue program, who’s lineup hasn’t even been announced yet. For those not lucky enough to get a festival wristband, the off venue program offers a chance to see music for free all over town. Anywhere you can fit a guitar, there will be a band. The jewelry shop, the grocery store, the bus station – they’ve all have acted as a venue for folks who just wanted to play. Bedroom Community, an Icelandic label who’s roster boasts an eclectic mix of groundbreaking artists, hosts my favorite off venue program at Kaffibarinn, a favorite local pub. “Bedroom Community and Friends” as it’s been billed, have featured a variety of really special shows over years. Owen Pallett, Mariam the Believer, and Damien Rice have all played, as well as the label’s own stellar acts and surprise collaborations. No doubt, this year will be equally as special.
With any music festival, who you plan to see is often not who you end up seeing. You get distracted. You meet people. You might have a few too many beers. But there’s always a select few shows that you make a point to be in attendance for. At Airwaves, there is obviously an emphasis on Icelandic music as it makes up more than half of the lineup. If you find yourself at this year’s festival, it’s well worth making sure you see some of the locals. Here are 5 lesser known Icelandic acts that have made my do-not-miss list this year.
Tickets to Iceland Airwaves officially sold out last week. You can see the entire lineup at http://www.icelandairwaves.is