Iceland Airwaves 2013 Festival Preview: Managing an Overwhelming Schedule of Icelandic & International Musicians

Iceland Airwaves started back in 1999 in an airport hangar outside of Reykjavik. Since then, it has grown into one of Europe’s premiere music festivals, showcasing the insane amounts of musical talent coming from the land of few people and many sheep. Each year, the festival curates some of the best up-and-coming international talent to supplement the Icelandic artists, and introduces a ton of off-venue shows. The total schedule is 10 pages long, and the whole festival turns Reykjavik into a musical paradise for five nights. It is all incredibly overwhelming, so let’s break it down for you.

The International / Non-Icelandic Musicians

Iceland Airwaves has a very interesting, and frankly, rather awesome policy for international bands. Anyone not from Iceland (or the Faroe Islands and Greenland) are only allowed to play the festival once. After that, no one is invited back. In that way, Iceland Airwaves does a great job of showing bands that are just on the cusp of hitting it big, or just passed the cusp of hitting it big. Scan through the previous line-ups over the years, and you are bound to recognize virtually every band on there. Here are some of the non-Icelandic bands to keep an eye on.

Anna von Hausswolff (Sweden)

Gamla Bíó – Thursday @ 23:40

Anna von Hausswolff sounds like going to church on Sunday evening, without the heavenly threats of being condemned to hell.


Electric Eye (Norway)

Hressó – Thursday @ 22:30

Electric Eye pull out the spacey, distorted fuzz rock similar to The Black Angels, only with a bit more of that hard Norwegian edge. Like all good up and coming bands, Electric Eye know you have to work hard to get paid, so check the off-venue programming list. They play a ton.


Fucked Up (Canada)

Harpa Norðurljós – Friday @ 00:30

Fucked Up are the rare hardcore punk breed that has captured critical acclaim, yet brings more than the indie snobs out to their live show. Part of that is because at heart, despite the Pitchfork accolades, Fucked Up are well-aware they are a punk band, and on stage, they act like it.


Goat (Sweden)

Harpa Norðurljós – Friday @ 23:30

Sweden’s Goat are a peculiar band. They claim to have met as children and played as part of a community tradition, making them the current members of a band that has existed for over 30 years. The band brings a mix of psychedelic grooves into a more worldly formed and is one not to miss.


Jagwar Ma (Australia)

Reykjavik Art Museum – Thursday @ 23:00

If you haven’t heard this Sydney based trio’s debut album Howlin’, you have been living under a rock that doesn’t provide an adequate amount of awesome music. Iceland loves its electronic-influenced pop, and not a single band is doing it better.


Kithkin (United States)

Gamli Gaukurinn – Friday @ 20:50
This Seattle-based quartet combines frenetic tribal drumming, hooting, hollering, and an overall love for all things trees into an energetic performance.


Kraftwerk (Germany)

Harpa Eldborg – Sunday @ 20:00

Without Kraftwerk, the realm of electronica exists in a much more different light, if at all. Any band with a bit of a Moog on their sound owes some lip service to these German legends, who are bringing a live experience in 3D.


Royal Canoe (Canada)

Gamli Gaukurinn – Saturday @ 23:20
If you don’t know anything about Royal Canoe, check out our interview with them here. Today We’re Believers is one of the better albums no one has heard of this year.


Stealing Sheep (United Kingdom)

Iðnó – Thursday @ 00:20

Stealing Sheep’s version of psychedelic rock focuses less on the weird and more on the hypnotic. Spastic percussion combines seamlessly with impeccable harmonies for one of the more interesting acts on the bill.


Yo La Tengo (United States)

Harpa Silfurberg Thursday @ 23:30
There isn’t a lot that Yo La Tengo haven’t done in their extensive career. Their newest album Fade is the perfect introduction into a band that needs no introduction.


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