Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Friday, October 26, 2007

Iceland Airwaves Festival: Notes from Bjork Island

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2007 at 6:36 AM

click to enlarge blocparty3_thumb.jpg

(Block Party)

By Jonah Flicker

Photos by Leó Stefánsson

The most immediate thing that separates the Iceland Airwaves Festival from its European and American siblings is its somewhat exotic locale. But there’s so much more that stands out about this five-day extravaganza. The entire city of Reykjavik is taken over by the proceedings, most venues filled to capacity, the streets flooded with drunken natives and foreigners alike until the bars close at six in the morning. The $10 price tag for a beer here doesn’t seem to put a damper on things at all, although many people have the foresight to save some money and begin their road to inebriation at home or in their hotels.

This year’s line-up brought popular indie-rock and electronic acts like Bloc Party, Annuals, Of Montreal, Chromeo, and Ms. John Soda to the Airwaves stages, but it’s the smaller Icelandic bands that are really what one should seek out while here. Some of the highlights in this category were O.N.E. and Poetrix, Icelandic versions of ‘90s golden-era hip-hop, the calypso and Brazilian-influenced Retro Stefson (a group of kids still in high school), and the indie-pop girl group sounds of Dyrdin. The Pavement-influenced Sudden Weather Change, a furiously messy and glorious group that rocked the packed venue Gaukurinn on Friday night, practically stole the show from headliners Deerhoof. Reykjavik! is a popular local hardcore stalwart, whose chaotic live show teetered on the brink of insanity, while the laptop jockey, Raychem, gave Boards of Canada a run for their money with his ambient broken jungle.

Many of the bands play off-venue locations like cafes and bookstores during the day in addition to their nighttime headlining spots, which is where I caught the annoyingly electro-twee American duo, Best Fwends. The weather this year was milder than last, but even if there had been blizzard conditions, it wouldn’t have stopped the folks gathered outside the famous 12 Tónar record store to catch Denmark’s garage-y Snake and Jet’s Amazing Bullit Band. But it’s the main venues that offer the standout shows. LA’s The Bronx spewed forth their cock-rock frenzy to appreciative crowds on the second night of the fest, while !!! astounded the hyper-enthusiastic Icelanders on a Saturday night that had plenty of competing shows. Another fascinating local group was Jakobínarína, whose herky-jerky new-wave rhythms were augmented by their bowl haircuts and the lead singer’s spastic onstage dance maneuvers. The Airwaves publicity material makes sure to point out that Rolling Stone’s David Fricke digs this band, and I could understand why after seeing them live.

The final night of Airwaves fell on a relatively quiet Sunday night that offered some special “surprise” performances from The Magic Numbers, Buck 65, and the aforementioned Sudden Weather Change. Overall, Iceland Airwaves 2007 felt like a hectic, exciting, hedonistic success, which is exactly the way it should be. Sure, there were as many misses as hits in terms of the quality of the numerous participating acts, but that’s part of the unpredictable atmosphere that makes this festival so unique.

click to enlarge bondeDeRole_1_thumb.jpg

(BondeDeRole)

click to enlarge bondeDeRole2_thumb.jpg

(BondeDeRole)

click to enlarge chromeo_thumb.jpg

(Chromeo)

click to enlarge crowd_1_thumb.jpg

(Crowd)

click to enlarge crowd_2_thumb.jpg

(Crowd)

click to enlarge crowd_3_thumb.jpg

(Crowd)

click to enlarge lessthan3svanhvit2_thumb.jpg

(lessthan3svanhvit2)

click to enlarge ofmontreal2_thumb.jpg

(Of Montreal)

click to enlarge reykjavik2_thumb.jpg

(Reykjavik)

click to enlarge slowClub_thumb.jpg

(Slow Club)

  • Pin It

Tags: ,

About The Author

David Downs

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Phish at the Bill Graham Auditorium
    Phish is in the midst of a block of sold out shows at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (October 27-29). The Monday night concert featured a rare first set opener of “Walfredo” with the band members switching instruments for the song. The evening’s highlights included John Fishman and his iconic vacuum cleaner solo and favorites such as Chalk Dust Torture, Slave to the Traffic Light, Axilla, Rift, 2001 Space Odyssey, and Maze. The show also featured Phish’s debut of a, seemingly impromptu, version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to with roaring approval of the, singing along, crowd. With Game 6 being tonight, partying Phish fans will join Giants fans in Civic Center Plaza where there will be a World Series viewing party on a large screen set up by the City. Photography by Jamie Soja.
  • The 4th Annual Masquerotica 2014 - NSFW
    The theme this year was Carnaval Mystique for the 4th Annual Masquerotica at The Factory. Attendees were entertained by strip dance, trapeze, and live music. Photographs by Calibree Photography.