31 October – 4 November || Words and photos by Vasilis Panagiotopoulos
Iceland Airwaves has changed drastically over the years. Starting out, in 1999, as a one-off stunt in an airplane hangar, thirteen years on it has become an international professionally run multi-venue event that sells out months in advance. Probably one of its most defining changes has been the recent closure of legendary club NASA, formerly the heart and soul of Airwaves and despite the vehement public outcry – especially within the artistic community – the club is still threatened to be torn down to give way for a hotel. As a result of this, Harpa, Rekjavík’s stunning concert hall has become Iceland Airwaves’ new home giving the festival a sleeker more upmarket feel.
But what about the newcomers? The NMO travelled to the Icelandic capital in order to bring you a selection of the best new acts at Iceland Airwaves 2012:
Chinese-born, US/Canada-bred, former MTV VJ Helen Feng was voted the no.11 coolest rock star by Beijing Timeout Magazine. Nova Heart’s new wave sensibilities and uplifting electropop beats were brought to Reykjavik all the way from Beijing. Aided by her huge stage presence and a series of well-thought-out tunes the unsuspecting crowd that gathered on Thursday night at Gamli Gaukurinn was in for a real treat.
Oyama won’t get an award for being original, but their fuzzy noise-rock is honest, cleverly melodic and highly-addictive and they surely deserve credit for that. The band’s Friday show at Bar 11 was jammed-packed by eager shoegaze fanatics. Júlía Hermannsdóttir and Úlfur Alexander Einarsson’s boy-girl vocals will please all Lush and, Jesus And Mary Chain fans out there.
On first listen Tilbury sound pretty dull. It takes a while to get into their peculiar dreamy world. Þormóður Dagsson’s softly-spoken voice and quirky melodies convey a dark nostalgic beauty. No wonder that this is an all-star band comprised of members of Skakkamange, Jeff Who?, Valdimar, Sin Fang and Hjaltalin. Unfortunately the writer only got the chance to see a short-but-sweet daytime show. So stay tuned for more… Highly recommended
Nelson Can like the minimalism of the White Stripes’ and The Gossip. Consequently the female punk-trio rely solely on bass, drums and some percussion. That didn’t prevent them from causing a mini-riot at Deutsche Bar on Thursday night. Expect ample amounts of attitude, Nordic wit and Danish charm. What’s not to like?
Pascal Pinon (IS)
Ethereal female ensemble Pascal Pinon started playing music at the early age of 14. The young Icelanders specialise in genuine and intimate performances such as the one on Thursday afternoon in Eldhús, a tiny house specially built for Airwaves on Ingólfstorg Square; coined the festival’s smallest venue. They played material from their brilliant new album produced by Alex Somers with lyrics in Icelandic, Swedish and English. Managing to charm all passers-by