This was my first Airwaves, despite it starting in 1999, since I’m usually making excuses to travel outside of Iceland once the cold and dark starts to set in. The weather this weekend was definitely cold, with crazy windstorms on Friday and Saturday, that blew me over once, into oncoming traffic on the street once, and otherwise just pushed me around and made me look like a drunk trying to walk in a straight line. At least other countries issue hurricane warnings, but we just keep on going as if this is totally normal weather… which, I guess, it is, but not the safest. It would have been a hassle to wait outside in some of the long queues, but with a little luck and random chance, a friend of a friend from LA came to the festival with a VIP ticket +1, and crowned me the other darling. With the “darling” pass, we could jump the lines, in and out of all the official venues, which got us into a few places like the Reykjavik Art Museum in-time to see Sóley, one of the heavily advertised ‘don’t miss’ artists.
The festival started on Halloween, and we fell in love with Myrra Rós´ voice at the Deutsche bar. Then there were 3 artists in a row that were on the top of my list to see, and from 10-1 we enjoyed Mammút, Sykur, and Ásgeir Trausti (I love him). On Thursday, we also saw Phantogram at Listasafn. We checked out Lára Runars and the Leaves, then settled in at Harpa to see Dikta, Bloodgroup and Of Monsters and Men. It was our most conservative night, since I had a midterm Friday morning, but on Friday we saw music from 4pm to 4am at probably 10 different venues, off and on venue. Highlights where Retro Stefson in the big white tent behind Hressó, Lay Low in Fríkirkjan (a beautiful church beside the pond), Mugison at Netagerði, and FM Belfast at Harpa. In between we bounced around for a little variety, listening to some death metal rock at Amsterdam, became hypnotised by Valgeir Sigurðsson´s classical violin at Iðno, and squeezed into Kaffibarinn to listen to Retrobot, an electrical-indie rock bank with a dash of 80´s vibe. I also saw Ásgeir Trausti play again, in the smallest venue of Airwaves – a little red summerhouse big enough for 5 people in the middle of Ingolfstorg.
On Saturday, our line up wishlist was tightest, with no time between bands (sometimes even an overlap) and each one in a different venue. Prins Pólo at Listasafn, Beni Hemm Hemm at Silfurbeg, Kira Kira at Kaldalón, Ásgeir Trausti in Norðurljós, I break Horses at Iðno, and finally Gus Gus to finish at Harpa. Kira Kira was incredible, I don´t even know where to start to explain her music, but the guitarist played kneeling down most of the time, the celloist was wearing a sweater that gave her wings everytime she bowed the cello, a lizard man played an instrument I have no idea what to call, and the singer Kristín Björk swayed around barefoot showing off her super soprano voice every once in a while. For Ásgeir Trausti´s set, I managed to get front and center in the audience, and stood under him with googly eyes wishing he would just open his eyes once to look back… but he never does.
The last day of the festival was slow but cosy, and I managed finally to get my greedy hands on a Sigur Rós ticket and stood awestruck by the bigger-than-life-sized visuals surrounding the stage. I heard Ylja at Eymundsson, a symphony play at Munnharpan, My Brother is Pale at Dillon, and, of course, Ásgeir Trausti one last time. He sounds the same everytime he preforms, and sings the same songs, always with his eyes closed, and barely says anything other than ‘takk’… its amazing how shy he can be after being the most played Airwaves artist of the 2012 festival.