Iceland Airwaves I 10.14-18 I Reykjavik

Friday, 10.16

Æla :: Iceland Airwaves 2009
Friday morning we were welcomed by the snaking queue outside the Skifan record store for festival headline act Kings of Convenience. The line was overwhelming as hordes of enthusiastic festival-goers arrived in the early hours on the bitterly cold Laugavegur shopping street to get their pink wristbands for the evening performance at the Frikirkjan Church (Free Church).

As the weekend was upon us, the sounds of music spilled out onto the damp pavement from the many off-site venues along Reykjavik's main high street. We headed down Laugavegur to arrive at Karamba for an early afternoon pint and to watch the start of the U.K.'s Brainlove Records' showcase. This little living room of a bar with an awkwardly angled stage in the corner of the room hosted a community of bands, where we managed to catch singer-songwriter Matt Riviere and company. Following this, an improvised jam session from the Braindead Collective filled the bar, aided by audience harmonizing and an ongoing crescendo of noise that swiftly awakened the loose crowd.

Our next move found us at Reykjavik's infamous Naked Ape fashion outlet to watch electronic three-piece Sykur play amongst the store's fluorescent street wear. Their enjoyable electro 8-bit sound of synths and bleepy tones blossomed when a sweet jazz vocalist joined them.

DLX ATX :: Iceland Airwaves 2009
To end the early evening off-plan shows, it was back to Karamba to catch Æla. Having been absent from recent Airwaves festivities, the erratic punk rock quartet didn't hold back, with towering frontman Halli Valli confidently utilizing the whole bar as a performance space. The show was an inclusive, unique experience that was brought to life within the confined kitsch interior of Karamba.

Whilst not straying too far from the raw sounds of Æla, we strolled towards Reykjavik's grungy hangout Grand Rokk. With a sparse crowd gathered, perhaps a hint at the more acquired taste associated with this evening's lineup, we joined the event midway through to catch Irish/Icelandic two-piece DLX ATX (pronounced Deluxe Attacks). Dressed as psychedelic fairies, the bass and drum duo attacked their instruments, producing an abrasive onslaught of noise reminiscent of Lightning Bolt.

Swords of Chaos followed and put on a rather intimidating show, as their miniscule terrier of a frontman screamed at the thin crowd. For a guy who appears to have little in the way of physical strength, he managed to infuriate a few audience members by pushing his way around the venue, though the majority of the crowd enjoyed the sustained stream of hardcore energy his band created.

It was left to U.K. electro-pop act Metronomy at the auditorium of the Reykjavik Art Museum to close the evening's schedule and kick-start the energetic weekend nightlife. Mirroring the uniformity of Kraftwerk and draped in their infamous illuminated medallions, the electronic three-piece's efforts to transform the semi-crowded space into a party won over the predominantly local art museum crowd. With festival-goers and locals itching to revel in all night drinking marathons at the plentiful clubs and bars, all that was left was to head back out into the blistering cold to find the next party to see the night through.

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