Iceland Airwaves ’13 – Thursday

Yeah, ladies and gents, another day of lazying around and being yelled at by friends for not being in the queue at 1 pm for ISO/Ólafur Arnalds-tickets. I arrived in time in Kofinn to chill out with a beer before Seth Sharp got up from his table to go sing some jazz and soul-infused songs of his own and other artists. All by himself, with only equally soulful guitar massaging wonderboy Benjamin as his support. Seth croons the good word to the twenty or so people sitting around drinking beers and cups of coffee. He is a pretty good singer despite the fact that – from what I could judge – not being able to hear himself in the Kofinn PA. So I gained a lot of respect for Mr Sharp. This newfound respect grows even more when Seth croons a particularly terrifying Icelandic folk tale regarding a dead child, even turning this horror story into a soulful ballad. All while guitarist Benjamin picks mournfully at his strings. A really awesome way to ease myself into the day!
Seth Sharp


mij=Door: Andrew. Foto’s: Dennis
After Seth Sharp, it’s time for full-size band My Brother is Pale. I’ve seen these guys before, but singer/guitarist Matthijs (a Dutch guy by the way, dear readers) warns he has changed things up a little bit! MBIP now contains a much stronger element of electronica, which – to my ear – brings a sense of maturity the band had lacked before. I haven’t seen Matthijs perform since last Airwaves and the growth is certainly there: emotionally and technically the band is holding it together well and perhaps only a small amount of experience was needed to transition to a (much) larger venue. Fun fact: the band has to actually run on to play the next show at another venue, a casual remark from the man behind the microphone reveals. Right before taking his time to finish up the set, he tells a semi-serious joke hoping for a volunteer to help carry the bass amp. It’s good to hear the guys are being booked up!
My Brother is Pale
In the meantime, our little group has split up: some go out to see some hardcore bands in rock temple Dillon: Mord, Mass, Moldun and Trust the Lies. Not me though: I’m dying of hunger so it’s down to the Laundromat Café for dinner, squeezed between a group of giant Scandi-type dudes eating hamburgers and a gang of carefully dressed people from the UK who happen to be a band. Laundromat caters to the bands with reserved tables but it tends to be very very busy. As with all things Airwaves artists, industry and the casual visitors are all mixed up together.
After dinner its time for a quick regroup and off to Harpa. Here I want to see Hjaltalin. At the Reykjavík Grapevine I read some really candid and open interviews with singer Sigríður, which made me curious in what direction he was trying to go. Also a couple of other bands would be nearby (I’ll come to that in a moment), as they’re playing on the stage next door to Silfurberg.
Sadly, I immediately realize I’ve made a bad choice: the stage reaches only to about a third into the venue, and the sound is so tremendously bass-heavy I get the impression my earplugs are being pushed right through my head. It got so bad that I just left and got a beer before moving over to next-door stage Norðurljós (the sound was much better here by the way). I got to see the tail end of Muck, who have found some magic way to combine energy with starkness, channeling the passive aggressiveness of those early nineties grunge kids (hey, I myself was an early nineties grunge kid, back off!). They don’t manage to get the crowd going though. In fact, it’s actually kind of quiet, even though the cheers and clapping are certainly loud enough when the Muckers threaten to play some more songs.
After a brief period of stage shuffling it’s time for the mighty Sólstafir to rock our guts out – which they immediately proceed to do. I was really looking forward to seeing them: I never had before an I am quite partial to slow and dramatic metal of this type. The rockers on the stage certainly look the part: there is leather, there are the mandatory sun glasses, there is the caressing of phallic guitars. Sonically I envision the metaphor of a freight train full of Icelandic granite making its way down a mountainside. Faster and faster, burning through its brakes, but never derailing. The audience stand and stare at the completely controlled slow motion disaster being enacted out on stage like an army looking at their generals. The lights flash and a musical manifestation of Iceland is unleashed by the band.
Then there is METZ. Hmm, how do describe them? Well, the people coming to see them are certainly an eclectic mix. Right in front of me an older gentleman wearing a beret and rain coat is jumping up and down. In the front, METZ-kids are throwing each other around, in turn chased by METZ-photographers. While on stage, the three Canadians of METZ are ecstatic to start a month-long METZ-tour through Europe, starting with Airwaves. Poor METZ-fellows are METZ leaving Iceland again METZ right after this gig METZ and complain METZ they are forever METZ missing out on the party METZ but METZ before METZ they METZ go METZ METZ they METZ METZ are METZ METZ METZ sure METZ METZ METZ to METZ METZ METZ METZ make METZ METZ METZ METZ a METZ METZ METZ METZ good METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ impression METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ METZ
Oh yes, post-METZ there is more Aurora.

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