Iceland Airwaves Day One (11/4): Wesen, Halleluwah, Royal (REVIEW)


Today was a long one, we landed in Iceland just before 6am after a five hour flight. I managed to sleep the entire flight (including take-off and landing) so not only was I doing OK, I was also feeling quite proud of myself.

After going through customs and getting a bus into the city we grabbed a quick bit of breakfast and went exploring around the town. It was lovely to see the city in the middle of Autumn as it approaches winter with some snow sprinkled on the mountains in the distance and plenty of cold air!

We then went to the Thermal Pool, something I love doing the few times I have. It was nice to relax outside in warm water with the cold air on the face as well as a very quick trip to the sauna.

Following a brief spot of work and some food it was time to head to NASA, a venue that hasn’t been used for 3 years to go and see some live music!

First up were Wesen, a duo hailing from Iceland comprising members from previous bands Sudden Weather Change and Oyama. Lori Höskuldsson and Julia Hermannsdóttir have just released their track, “the low road,” a relaxed track with excellent production and haunting vocals and they’ve just finished their first album so hopefully that will be released soon.

This was their first Iceland Airwaves show in 10 years and it was a welcome return as they showed their confidence as performers. The setup featured Lori on guitar and loops with some occasional vocals and Julia on vocals and loops. The show started off gently as expected for the first act of the night with lots of floating synths flying around with hi-hats and kick drums. Julia’s vocals were nice and relaxed and accompanied the music well. As the show went on, the pace picked up a little and Lori started joining in more with his loud melodramatic vocals which most of the time complemented Julia. Overall, a good start to the night.

Next were Halleluwah, starting out as a solo project consisting of Solvi Blondal it then evolved into a duo with singer Reketa. The duo make 1960’s influenced music with a modern electronic twist. Their live performance consisted of double drum kits, synths, computer sound-effects and a little nostalgia.

Starting out with some of their better known music, the group seemed to have it together and were doing well. As the show went on they decided to play more slow ballads, something which didn’t work as well in a live environment due to the same beat from both the drummer and the keyboardist being used throughout the entire tracks with minimal buildups or breakdowns, meaning the music at times felt monotonous and something which the strong vocals couldn’t save.

Finally were Royal, not much can be found about this duo, they’re a brand new electronic pop duo who are currently working on their debut album. They played Iceland Airwaves last year and are both key members in the Icelandic music scene having worked with big name artists like FM Belfast.

Their live show was truly something to behold. Mixing a perfect balance of humour and house music something, which has served a lot of performers well in the past including Deadmau5, Seth Troxler, The 2 Bears and KLF. Their performance was lively as well as interesting with some live drums on tracks as well as live guitars. Songs included “Sangria,” “Elizabeth” and “My Throne Is On Fire,” which featured plenty of cowbell. A great way to finish the first night’s reviews.




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