Party Time: Reykjavik Art Museum and HARPA

The majority of the Iceland Airwaves 2013 main acts have been delivered inside those two venues, here’s what happened.

Gold Panda, Retro Stefson, Mikky Blanco and Sisy Ey were all playing at Reykjavik Art Museum. Emiliana Torrini, Ásgeir, Jon Hopkins, FM Belfast inside Harpa.

iceland airwaves

We already told you about the not-so-special of Gold Panda, Retro Stefson and Emiliana Torrini (check them HERE). And we can put in that DOWNs list also Sisy Ey (very good looking, very poor sounding) and Mikky Blanco (even if he had the power to get the “dance” floor ready for Gold Panda, actually giving better feelings in comparison). This time we want to spend few words about the others.IMG_7064

FM Belfast: anytime we keep this show at the end of the festival. You probably can’t find any other show where you can have so much fun. It’s party music, and people in Iceland like to party. The floor at Harpa was bouncing under our feet – some people actually freaked out going close to the walls with the sensation of the whole “house” blowing in a second -, the guys on stage are always on top and the sound is so much fun. If you can’t move with them, what else can you do at a festival? We met them and this is our interview where you can find more about their talent and genius.

Ásgeir is the male rising star of the icelandic music yet. His album was a best seller this year and he collaborated with John Grant and other great artists. Recently he released some english version of his songs and he is breaking borders in Europe. Our contributor Raffaele had the chance to meet him before his concert at Harpa and soon we will show you our interview.


About his performance at Harpa: we were really curious to discover him live, as we only appreciated his music on vinyl before. The beginning of the show was a bit slow, but the tracklist was a great crescendo and at the end of the performance we all agreed he is going a great job. He plays with a bunch of very talented musicians, the set focuses on him and the music is pure, genuine: you can actually feel the great amount of work there’s behind each track. We keep on having better feeling with his icelandic versions of the songs, as we don’t really feel the need to translate them in english, and we have to say that standing close to the mixer inside the venue was a good choice as we get the chance to appreciate his sound and voice better and his music deserves a high quality of sound to give you a completely different and complete experience. 

If you didn’t hear about Ásgeir before, we really suggest you to give a chance to his music, trusting the icelandic taste and if you have a chance, go to his live shows – we are sure his tour is going to reach your city sooner or later – as he really is one of the most interesting voices in Iceland right now.

Jon Hopkins is a very young and very creative talent in his field. He performed a complete set, something like two hours of music, and literally created magic. We came out of the (boiler) room completely messed up, his DJ set was the best dancing experience of the whole Airwaves. He knows for sure what are the buttons to push to make your body move like if there would be no tomorrow. And so we did. We danced for two hours, keeping on dancing even when we went to the bar outside the venue to drink the whole Christmas beers left in the fridges.

A mixture of techno and ambient gave us the electric feel we really deserved after several average shows, and if interested you can read more about his first solo album “Immunity” in our dedicated review HERE.

The final balance for this Airwaves cannot be as positive as the 2012 edition, unfortunately. Even if the climate this year was perfect to move from a venue to the other (which should be the distinguishing feature of this festival in comparison with any other being Reykjavik a perfect city having everything at an easy walking distance), even if at night the Northern Lights were so powerful you could spot them from the very city center despite the road lights and light pollution of the city, even if the line up was great… Something was missing. 


We felt like the genuine part of the festival was completely forgotten. We had the feeling that the graffiti on a famous building of Reykjavik showing the quote “Money destroying art and culture” is kinda right. In these past years Airwaves lost historical venues such as NASA and FAKTORY, the shows at KEX Hostel are nice but now too focused on the KEXP Radio broadcast so that the artists must be on perfect time and can’t perform any longer even if there’s a thousand people queuing for a little more. The festival is becoming a little bit “mainstream” maybe, which is very good for the finance, pretty bad for the whole emotional side of the thing.


Actually, the only show that gave us the sensation Airwaves was still a great festival was the Múm show at Frikirkjan. It was the only show in a weird situation, with the band playing inside a church and the people sitting in every little tiny part of it. Some of them watching inside from the windows, with the members of the band waving at them. It was like being in a different situation, a unique feeling you can only get in Reykjavik, maybe. Playing in structures such as Harpa or the Art Museum can be good because they can host the majority of the people (and the sound is better than anywhere else maybe), but the remarkable part of this Festival shouldn’t be put in a corner. The performances inside bookstores, art galleries, stores and hostels are still the best part of Airwaves, and in our opinion can’t be only in the off-venue programotherwise the only solution would be maybe to avoid buying the ticket for the festival and just try to enjoy the off venue shows next time.


This reportage would not have been possible without the support of 


Our official sponsor for Airwaves Car Rental Iceland