A long day and night that finally ended at 4am, but started, as far as Airwaves business is concerned at 4pm in Boston Bar where there was an industry-type meet the bands session organised by the lovely people from Iceland Music Export. Beautifully chaotic, but very interesting and well attended - it was great to meet and chat to guys such as xfm's John Kennedy (impressively here for his own interest, not on any sort of business trip), Paul, the editor of Kerrang!, Anthony who founded the brilliant Hype Machine, and guys from Drowned In Sound and Clash magazine - an impressive collection of industry types, I felt guilty to bring the quality down! Not so guilty however that I didn't lap up the chance to chat to as many musicians as I could and I left gratefully clutching an impressive swag of demos, promos and finished albums. It was also a huge relief to see the guys from Spengjuhollin in there after the interview I did was published, they were very happy with it thankfully!
The evening session began at 8pm sharp at the Art Museum and a really strong performance from Esja which I had been looking forward to seeing. It was louder and rockier than I expected; I've not heard the album yet, just a few tracks, but I certainly enjoyed their set despite a disappointingly attended venue. New chums Spregjuhollin (pictured) were up next and I felt their pain as they came on stage to a very sparse hall. Gladly it filled up throughout their show which was very well deserved for their strong set if indie-pop, all in Icelandic, which includes the song that was introduced as a "six-minute murder ballad" (which I think is called Konkordia) - whatever it's a great song. Their biggest song "Worry Till Spring" was a nice moment, I saw countless audience members mouthing along to what is very clearly a local favourite.
Change of venue next, to NASA which was also extremely quiet - possibly due to the poor review I read of Benni Hemm Hemm's Wednesday show? (where was everybody?). Lucky for us though, comfortably installed close to the stage to witness the numerous band-members blow and bow their way through a sweet set of brass and string augmented pop songs. The venue filled up rapidly as Retro Stefson's (pictured) stage time approached but there was no sign of any pressure on these extraordinarily young group. Their set was triumphant, the songs sounded great in the bigger venue - and who isn't seduced by a stage full of balloons. Wide smiles were everywhere - I only wish I knew their stuff better to name-check a few of their songs - but watch out for this young band.
One more venue change as we settled into the resurrected (for this week only?) Organ venue for the rest of the night. UK based but half-Icelandic band Half Tiger arrived to face a horrible amount of technical trouble, but just when there was a danger of audience unrest they pulled a masterstroke with an unaccompanied version of 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody" - who can resist a bit of 80s Whitney? Once the troubles were slowly ironed out they delivered a set which improved throughout. I guess I'd called it electronic-tinged indie but I'm sure there's a better term for it. The band are also, for the record, nice guys - it was great to share a drink with Gisli and Si (much) later in the evening. Somewhere around midnight, Matias Tellez, another act I'd been looking forward to since I explored his debut album recently, took the stage. His set was a riot of clearly Beatles inspired melodic and jerky pop. Matias, from "Bergen, Chile", is another ridiculously fresh-faced youngster who apparently won his Airwaves slot in a Norwegian competition - I'm very glad that he did, it was hugely enjoyable.
As Matias and his band left the stage, it was clear that the venue was now inhabited by a small army of very very huge viking-looking men - it must be time for Skatar. Retreating to a safe (ish) distance for this one, we nonetheless enjoyed a noisy set that the faithful lapped up - as I read in another review today - this is a great party band. They put on a great show and have song excellent songs, and some very odd costumes. Once again, I ended the night at a show by the mighty Reykjavik! I've said all this before, but these shows are thrilling occasions. Boas was once again true to his comment about 'leaving no audience member untouched' regularly appearing amongst or above the crowd and leaving one particular stage security man increasingly, and amusingly, exasperated. After the show, guitarist Haukur said that he and the band were really tired beforehand... that really was the worst impression of tired I've ever seen in my life, I was a sweaty mess just watching (and avoiding flying feet). I realise I rarely mention their songs and concentrate on the performance. Last night's highlights were Beautiful Boys (as ever), Aeji Plis, Golden Circle and a memorable cover of a Retro Stefson song featuring the brothers from that band, the younger of whom was launched into the audience by Boas. I think he enjoyed it!
A classic Airwaves night again and, in case you're interested - 2 hot dogs. Again.