After landing at a dark 5:30 in the morning, followed by duty-free shopping and converting our money, we dropped off our things at our hotel and hit the ground running. Hours of exploration of Reykjavík showed our inability involving directions yet I was personally building love for the city itself. We all had our first Icelandic hot dog, hit a classic record shop, toured the Harpa venue, received our wristbands and then saw the church Hallgrímskirkja and listened to the organist play.
The key part to my day was Sundhöll, a pool with other fantastic amenities such as two differing temperature jacuzzis, a sauna, and two pools. After hours of walking with only momentary respites, I believe the group was not prepared for the amount of relaxation that came their way. Though I thought the pool was the most healing part, I was then surprised to find that after a brisk chilly jog from inside the building to the outside patio, the best part of my day involved the extreme hotness of the (seemingly inconveniently placed) jacuzzi. At first thought, the hot jacuzzi outside in brisk Icelandic air would seem ill advised, but the cool air contrasted the wonderful heat in the jacuzzi, which made me never want to leave my seat!
Much to my disdain, though I was placated and comfortable enough after the warmth, we left the spa and made our way back to the hotel to get ready for the night ahead.
My first night at Airwaves involved a full night at Harpa.
AmabAdamA’s genre of music is reggae and their chill yet rocking vibe was prevalent when the three vocalists, Salka Sól, Gnúsi Yones and Steinunn, stepped on stage. They danced their way to their mics, encouraging others to dance along. With a wide cast of talent, which includes Andreds on the bass, Björgvin on the saxophone, Ellert on the keyboard, Hannes on the trumpet, Höskuldur on the drums, and Ingólfur on the guitar, the three main vocalists have a support system that backed up their powerful lyrics that even with a language barrier still were able to reach an audience. Salka Sól in particular created a great rapport with the crowd, and while introducing their song “GAIA,” she said that while there may be some language barriers and people may not understand the lyrics, they understand Mother Nature and Gaia. Gnúsi Yones and Steinunn also created a rapport with the crowd and Steinunn especially helped the crowd repeat back some Icelandic to involve them with the music. The energy levels were at a consistent high that was shown in their fast lyrics yet slow and deliberate dancing to the songs. The stage was set to perfection, with none left out of the mix and all members having their own spotlight. The vocals were on point, with no trace of backtrack or autotune, and that realness was what made them unique in their own reggae way. All in all, AmabAdamA took care to know their crowd and how it affected them, which made them an overall talented group.
Júníus Meyvant was incredibly meticulous about his set, so much so that it seemed for a second that he would not go on on time. Meyvant introduced himself simply, and started to play, by doing that he didn’t create a rapport right away with the crowd but felt able to do so after his first song by asking the crowd questions and joking with them which succeeded to endear him and make him worth listening to. His music is sensual, and he does this by his visually close relationship to the microphone and his guitar. In his tonalities, and the words in his lyrics, Meyvant seems similar to a few indie singers today, one that came to mind was Robert Pattinson’s stint in singing because the inflections and usage of music behind him was reminiscent of Pattinson’s “Let Me Sign.” Meyvant makes his music his own though by using his bandmates to his advantage. It seemed that sometimes the crowd wasn’t even there and that Meyvant simply jammed to his own tune. There was never a dull lacking moment and while it differed in music style from AmabAdamA, Meyvant captured attentions with his simplistic yet complex music production and with his genuinely talented voice.
Seeing Dikta live included great rocking music, worthy of a dance…or 10! Yet it also included some small issues. For example, the lead singer Haukur Heidar was off on timing at least twice, but for sure once while performing the song “We’ll Meet Again” when his fellow bandmate looked confused as the music was going faster than the lyrics. Mistakes which should be uncommon for a band that has been around for this long (10 years). Also, his rapport with the crowd seemed forced at first, yet by the middle of the act, his jokes landed and even the drummer did a “Ba-dum-tss” in response. To start the show, and for a couple songs afterwards, Heidar personally played a small piano on stage instead of allowing the music to be in the background while he sang. This choice made the room seem even cozier and bound by the love of a band, more so than simply being present at the show. Production value-wise, Dikta couldn’t have done any better. The light shows represented the mood of every song, where the lights would dim on a downwards note then the lights would explode in a flurry when the song hit a climax. The vocals of Heidar were exemplary, as expected, and the drummer Jon Sigurdsson backed Heidar up with an enthusiastic skillful beat. Funnily, Dikta is very well-heard through closed doors, so next time you pass them by open the doors and take a listen!