And here we are again, with yet another mind-altering year of Iceland Airwaves that seemingly came and went in what felt like the speed of sound.
The first day of Airwaves 2016, much like the structure of a really, really good song, began dizzyingly strong, with highlight sets from local acts Reykjavíkurdætur, Axel Flóvent, and Sturla Atlas. Although festival-goers may not have realized in the moment, the best, or better yet the epic chorus, was yet to come.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday (both day and night, on-venue and off-venue) proved to be that climactic chorus, both catchy and hook-ridden, thanks to noteworthy performances by Julia Holter, Mammút, Throws, Warpaint, Frankie Cosmos, Lets Eat Grandma and Jennylee. All of these shows occupied highly sought-after slots at the largest (and most beautiful) venues in Reykjavík such as The Reykjavík Art Museum, Gamla Bíó, Harpa, and more.
The bridge and outro of the wonderful tune I call Iceland Airwaves emerged as soon as crowds filed out of Harpa and into a swirl of brisk Reykjavík air after an electric set by FM Belfast. The tune ended on a lovely (yet melancholic) final note on Sunday evening, one that concertgoers can thank Kevin Morby, Mammút, and PJ Harvey for.
Amongst all of said artists who found themselves on the forefront of the festival schedule, I couldn't help but notice what I would soon learn to be the best kept secrets of Airwaves. These nine bands/solo projects, to follow my metaphor, acted as the underrated yet essential basslines, tones, or vocal harmonies that every song (or festival) thrives because of. They weren't necessarily playing to large capacity rooms, and might have been scheduled at unfortunate times (i.e. during Bjork at Harpa…), but nonetheless were a large contributing force to the utter magic I experienced.
This is likely why I love Airwaves so much, and continue to return year after year, as their intuition to pay attention to what isn't obvious to many is unmistakably on-point. These under the radar acts are quietly making the most noise, and because of Airwaves, were heard as loud and clear as PJ Harvey's lead vocals, Throws' floor-shaking percussion or any Warpaint guitar solo.
Listen below to EARMILK's most notable picks.
1. AUÐUR (IS)
2. KELSEY LU (US)
3. PAVO PAVO (US)
4. DOOMSQUAD (CA)
5. DOLORES HAZE (SE)
6. DREAMWIFE (IS/UK)
7. EAST OF MY YOUTH (IS)
8. MIDDLE KIDS (AU)
9. VIO (IS)