RoD header


introDifferent Locations, Reykjavik, Iceland
30th October to 3rd November 2013
Iceland Airwaves Day 1: Soley, Samaris, Blood Group, Emiliana Torrini, Agent Fresco, Grisalappalisa, YLJA, Bellstop

Iceland Airwaves is a music festival in Reykjavik, Iceland, sponsored by Iceland Airways company. Everything started in 1999 from the gig in an airplane hangar in Reykjavik airport. Since then Iceland Airwaves became “the biggest party in the northern hemisphere”. This year it took place in the 17 ON-venues and a few dozens of OFF-venues. Music was literally everywhere in the city! It was really hard to plan which venues should be visited but great organization including free phone-application with time planner, helped festival visitors a lot. Festival spirit was in the air - even at the airplane on the way to Reykjavik where cabin crew gave booklets with program. Also a movie about airwaves festival was available on board. So, festival goers got excited even before the landing in Reykjavik.


Line-up of this year included more than one hundred bands such as Kraftwerk, Soley, Samaris, Emiliana Torrini, Belfast FM, John Grant, Olafur Arnalds, Asgeir, Omar Souleyman and many others. It was my first time on the festival, and second day in Reykjavik, so it took time to define where to go and what to see. First day concerts took place at seven venues - Amsterdam bar, Gamli Gaukurinn, Harlem, Reykjavik Art Museum and three venues in Harpa - Kaldalon, Nordurljos, Silfurberg. I concentrated on a few of those venues starting with the smaller venues.

YLJA (venue: Gamli Gaukurinn) was the first band for me on that day. Just to be fair, want to notice that in some venues the bad light was not a fault of the band. I would say that the scale of festival became much bigger than size of some venues (small and cosy bars). Some of places didn’t have enough space to fit all the people who wanted to listen particular band (nothing bad about places, they are just for different purposes). And so it happened that YLJA played in such a cosy bar with only little lighting. YLJA is an Icelandic band, formed in 2008, but was nominated for an Icelandic Music Award as the best newcomer in 2013. The vocals of the girls were clear and sincere and even though I did not understand any single word I got a good impression from them, they were calming and fresh. // Rating: Music 7 / Performance 6 / Sound 6 / Light 3 // Total 5.5 / 10


From the cosy bar to another small venue and the band BELLSTOP (venue: Amsterdam). Again we got the case that the venue was too small for the band. With the help of security I barely found a place in the corner of the room (few centimetres probably) and the crowd was very friendly, letting me take a few pictures. I have stayed there no longer than two songs since it was so packed and actually understood why it is so crowded. The band was really good with good vocals in folk-rock genre. // Rating: Music 7 / Performance 6 / Sound 7 / Light 3 / Total 5.75 / 10


After twi bands it was time for me to change the venue. Chosen artist was GRISALAPPALISA (venue: Reykjavik Art Museum), an Icelandic rock and roll (or punk-rock?) band formed in 2012. A special thing is that they have a saxophone player. Personally I wouldn’t tell that it is my style of music but also belong to Icelandic music fashion trends. // Rating: Music 6 / Performance 7 / Sound 7 / Light 8 / Total: 7 / 10


Another act I saw at this venue was AGENT FRESCO (venue: Reykjavik Art Museum). As a special feature of this band we have sincerity of every member of the collective. How deep each of them is involved in music and how true their emotions are! I can hardly define a genre they are working in (something between rock, pop and alternative), but I definitely liked it. Their performance was one of the most memorable in the frame of the festival. These guys have a great potential since every one of them got the same equal charisma and adherence to the things they do. Now they are working on their second album. // Rating: Music 8 / Performance 8 / Sound 8 / Light 8 / Total 8 /10


Haven seen four bands in smaller venues now, it finally was time for something bigger, the Harpa. The first band I saw there was SOLEY (venue: Harpa Silfurberg). Soley Stefansdottir became famous outside Iceland after releasing of her two albums. Today her fan page on Facebook already achieved almost 161 thousand subscribers. Hall was so full and I hardly managed to get into the door and immediately understand why. Charismatic identity and enchanting voice hold an attention of audience perfectly. // Rating: Music 7 / Performance 6 / Sound 7 / Light 8 / Total 7 / 10


After SOLEY, is was time for a young Icelandic band called SAMARIS (venue: Harpa Silfurberg). The band, formed in 2011 and rapidly became popular because of the original combination of the clarinet, electronic music and vocals. They already won two music awards and keep working on the development of their potential. The soloist Jófríður Ákadóttir came to the stage in the white dress, barefoot, with a fish-theme in her make-up and dress. Her look was immaculate along with her vocals. // Rating: Music 7 / Performance 7 / Sound 7 / Light 8 / Total 7.25 / 10


On we go at the same venue with BLOOD GROUP (venue: Harpa Silfurberg), which one of the best known electronic bands in Iceland. Their music in not typical and they are truly in trends of Icelandic music preferences. Iceland airwaves festival has shown an obvious love of the islanders to electronic music. // Rating: Music 7 / Performance 6 / Sound 7 / Light 6 / Total 6.5 / 10


The last Artist in Harpa and also for that day for me was EMILIANA TORRINI (venue: Harpa Silfurberg), an Icelandic singer with Italian roots who is not a beginner on stage. After 16 years of living abroad she came back to Iceland to rediscover her own country and its music industry. Her ‘Jungle Drum’ (2009) song is famous worldwide and was on the top of charts in many European countries. Emiliana was also nominated on Grammy in 2005 and sang for one of the compositions of Paul Oakenfold. Her performance was energetic and great. Perfect sound, professional vocals and a remarkable band, made the audience dancing with her jungle drum. // Rating: Music 8 / Performance 7 / Sound 8 / Light 8 / Total: 7.75 / 10


And so, my first festival day ended at the biggest venue of the day. The venues were indeed very different and at the end of the day I want to make a positive note especially about one of them, the Harpa venue. It is a huge and very modern building, home of Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Opera House. There are four halls inside: two of them seated and two with a dance floor. Good acoustics and soundproofing. This is it now for the first day. To be continued…

Full Gallery

Warning: No images in specified directory. Please check the directory!

Debug: specified directory -

All pictures by Ekaterina Golitsyna (

Comments powered by CComment