Our Top 6 New Obsessions from Iceland Airwaves 2015

Hundred Waters
‘Remember when it used to be all about the music’.

I am not old enough to say that and mean it. But, jokes aside, do you remember the last time you enjoyed music? Often our tastes, mine included, are somewhat directed by trend more than legitimate talent. We might go to that show partially to brag about being there the next day.

You go to Iceland Airwaves for the music. Certainly you can experience the big names in intimate settings (John Grant, Father John Misty, Hot Chip). But, the festival isn’t catered to the trend chasers. Instead, by the end, if you aren’t obsessing over bands you had never heard of before, you are not doing Airwaves right!

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Here are my Top 6 New Obsessions from Iceland Airwaves 2015

FM Belfast

FM Belfast (Iceland)

Their music will make you: dance without a care for the world. Trust me, you wont be able to control the involuntary reckless movements as a side effect of listening to their music.

Best stuff: ‘Stripes’/ ‘Brighter Days’

Best Airwaves moment: the electro-pop band was the closing act on Sunday’s finale at Vodafone Music Hall. The 6some threw the biggest party that had endless supply of confetti, streamers and most importantly, the dancing. Bands have the usual guitar solos or drum solos. FM Belfast had a friggin dance solo! The band (and the crowd’s) infinite energy throughout the hour and half set certainly trumped the boundless energy guaranteed by the Energizer bunny.

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Weval

Weval (Netherlands)

Their music will make you: want to throw a basement party. Think less frat-house; instead it would be more of an underground somber rave, where heads would be silently grooving and eyes closed. No distractions.

Best stuff: ‘Gimme Some’ / ‘Easier’

Best Airwaves Moment: the Dutch-duo played an unofficial show at Bravo, a bar that was packed to the brim, with the queue going out the door. Everyone passing by gravitated to the heavenly ambience indoors, and attempted to figure out who were the creators of such seductive sounds. Inside, not a single sweaty soul was on their phone or making casual conversations. Everyone was hooked to the music and absorbing the brilliance.

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Aurora

Aurora (Norway)

Her music will make you: wonder how a voice can masterfully manipulate and overpower your senses. Eons after the first listen, you will continue to be blissfully haunted by the voice of this Norwegian pop goddess.

Best stuff: ‘Running with the Wolves’ / ‘Murder Song’ / ‘Runaway’

Best Airwaves Moment: Aurora closed the second night of the festival at the gorgeous Reykjavik Art Museum. Her dark pop songs have unusual depth, something that is conveyed acutely well in the music video concepts. The 19-year-old wunderkind replicated the dramatic tone of the songs with erratic hand movements. The absurd gestures were the perfect pair to the despairing nature of the material.

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Milkywhale

Milkywhale (Iceland)

Her music will make you: lose your inhibitions and be swayed by Melkorka Sigríður’s youthful exuberance. Milkywhale was birthed out of Melkorka’s vision of combining her dance and music background. The result is cheesy-pop songs with words like ‘I wanna meet you / I wanna eat you .. naturally’ or ‘ I wanna be mainstream, not a gulf stream’. Don’t waste effort in containing your urge to dance; just let loose and jump along!

Best stuff: ‘Birds of Paradise’ / ‘Invisible’

Best Airwaves Moment: Melkorka played her last show of the festival at Hlemmur Square, a bar that could hold about 100 attendees for performances. During the initial moments of the set, the crowd was still, perhaps bedazzled by the cheesy-pop goodness. However, the relentless Melkorka continued the epic journey taking the crowd through disco-heavy electro pop and free-spirited choreography. By the end, the uptight bar felt more like a slumber party, as Melkorka encouraged the crowd to be as theatrical as the performer on stage.

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Vök

Vök (Iceland)

Their music will make you: ponder why you have been listening to the same song over and over again. There is so much music in the world right now, yet you keep hitting the ‘repeat’ button on Waterfall or If I was. Thumping electro beats, XX-esque singular guitar notes and Margrét Rán Magnúsdóttir’s voice hovering it all. Nothing genre-bending here, yet you can’t deny the addictive nature of their minimalistic tunes.

Best stuff: ‘If I was’ / ‘Before’ / ‘Waterfall’ / ‘Tension’

Best Airwaves Moment: the Icelandic duo was the first on hand for the festival’s closing ceremony at Vodafone Music Hall. In a staggered lineup that featured other Icelandic heavyweights like FM Belfast and Agent Fresco, they absolutely held their own. The somber prog-pop was the ideal appetizer for the flashier and more dramatic genres to follow. Excelling with a shorter set plagued by logistics, the band proved that they are ready to make a dent in your music radar.

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Agent Fresco

Agent Fresco (Iceland)

Their music will make you: angry for not being exposed to this kind of excellence before. The band’s contrasting mélange of aggressive guitars and Arnór Dan’s tender operatic voice is the perfect soundtrack of your imaginary fantastical world. Just don’t try to define what you are listening to, as Agent Fresco’s songs are impossible to fit in a box.

Best stuff: ‘Wait for Me’ / ‘See Hell’ / ‘Dark Water

Best Airwaves Moment: the band was the act preceding Hot Chip at Vodafone Music Hall. Venue logistics had shortened their set as well, and the four-piece had to rush through their material. ‘Eyes of a Cloud Catcher’ was saved for the end. Arnór Dan, the ridiculously talented frontman, had lost his father to cancer few years ago, and the aforementioned song was written in his memory. The vulnerability reached new heights, as the whole arena was passionately echoing the chorus ‘we are, we are / all here by your side’. You couldn’t help but tear up at the thought of envisioning more than 2000 people join Arnór in his ode to his departed father. Ladies and gents, that’s the power of music.

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Review by Nilabjo Banerjee | @nilabjo

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