Day two is now winding to an end, but it feels as if I’ve been here for weeks because I’m finding that being here is becoming a different kind of home. I’m learning these eetreets, I’m comfortable in this chilly air, and I’ve met a vast amount of people that I am so thankful for the discussions they offer me. Coming from Chicago and being out past midnight, or being out early enough where it’s pitch black can be scary, because of that I’ve learned to always be on guard.
Yet, here in Reykjavík, I don’t feel that unease because this city is making me feel pretty darn safe, maybe this is my naivety but I truly think there’s something about these Icelanders that differ from most people in the world.
Today was the day to do my interviews for my during and final stories I am covering that are outside of the Iceland Airwaves music reviews. My “during” story that I will be covering is about how peaceful Iceland is and why, along with Iceland’s politics involving the EU. My “final” story is about Samtokin ’78, the only formal Icelandic LGBT group, that has recently worked out funding for LGBT education in schools. I talked to two parliament members, the director of Samtokin ’78 as well as a bonafide Icelandic celebrity (artist/activist), all of whom you will be hearing more about very soon! Stay tuned!
In other news, the second night of Airwaves tunes is as follows!
Klassart is an Icelandic blues band that sings mostly in English. This group is basically family. No, really, three of the band members are siblings, which is the lead singer Frída Dís Gudmundsdóttir, lead guitarist and creator of the band Smári Gudmundsson, and older brother Pálmar Gudmundson. They were the first to play at Tjarnarbio tonight, and they put on brilliant show. The lead singer was very clearly into the music and was seen swaying and moving her body to the beat and being incredibly passionate with her vocals. The pianist and backup singer Hlynur Thor Valsson contributed to the wistful music created by the whole group. The use of the acoustic guitar provided a semblance of almost country-type music that flowed with their blues sound. While the lead singer’s commentary and rapport between songs was in Icelandic, it didn’t take away from the band in the slightest. The set-up of Tjarnarbio is entirely different from Harpa where the stage is all the way down at the bottom with a dance-floor like setting in front of it and beyond that there are movie-theater style seats. This made it a less danceable atmosphere as most of the audience sat in the seats, but this also led to a more appreciative attentive crowd that disregarded outside influences and paid attention to the music in front of them. As a side note, oddly enough, it seemed as if the band had planned their outfits in some sort of way. The lead singer and pianist were wearing white collared shirts and black bottoms, and the guitarists were wearing navy shirts and dark jeans. Vocals were exceptional from both parties, the pianist was multitasking his singing and playing wonderfully and the two guitarist so heavily into their music with their stoic faces created a down-to-earth lovely show.
Thorunn Antonia and Bjarni are two talented individuals who with the help of other musicians create hauntingly beautiful music, which is shown in their song “White Ravens.” There was 30 minutes before their set started, so as the crowd watched the group set-up, the inner dynamics of the group started to show. Bjarni sipped at his beer, assisted Thorunn Antonia with her guitar strap and tuning of her guitar, Antonia practiced her songs and the drummer “tuned” his drums while the double bassist set-up his area. Though Bjarni said that Antonia and him had only practiced with their new drummer once before, it didn’t show at all. This group was exemplary, Antonia’s rich purposeful vocals combined with Bjarni’s stellar guitar skills, mixed with the low tones of the double bass and the perfectly timed rocking-out of the drummer conceived a beautiful symphony of honest lyrics and acoustic tunes. It almost sounded like pop-country one would hear in the United States. To go off of that, Antonia started to talk about her song “Pieces of My Heart,” saying that when she wrote it, she didn’t want to sing it because it was a bit dramatic, and that writing it she thought of “Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber…NO! Meatloaf!” She was torn between it being a pop song or a ballad, and her description of the creation of this song was endearing and made her rapport with a difficultly-placed crowd, possible. The nearly empty Tjarnarbio was packed as soon as Thorunn Antonia and Bjarni started their set, which is almost evidence enough of their sheer talent and fan base.
A young band from a Westfjords fishing town called Rythmatik is quickly on the rise in Iceland. Recently they won at Músíktilraunir, a battle of the bands sort of show, where some previous winners went on to be successful artists. That was prevalent in their nearly packed-to-the-brim show at Idno tonight. These group of (honestly) goofy kids, jumped right into their music and showed the crowd all of their cards, and after the first song, lead singer Hrafnkell Hugi automatically built a rapport with the crowd. His topics included the sweater he was wearing that his grandmother either made him or made him wear, the flyers he was about to throw in the air, commentary on their bassist Pétur Óli, and how when he flopped himself on the ground on the second to last song he would be unable to do something as great at the end of the final song. Hugi’s vocals were on-point and even without music to back him up during a slight a capella bit he sounded as crisp and clear as in their studio songs. Also, their new EP, Epilepsy, was just released, and was for sale after the show. In the end, this band was personable, and with three talented guitarists and passionate drummer it is possible they may go far in the music scene.