Iceland Airwaves Day Three (11/6): When ‘Airy Met Fairy, Grísalappalísa, TUSK (REVIEW)


Day three was spent wandering the cobble stone street of Skólavörðustígur, the main street that leads up to Hallgrímskirkja, the lutheran parish church iconic to the city of Reykjavík. For only 786.87 Icelandic Krona, or, six U.S dollars, you can catch a quick elevator ride up to the top of the tower to experience a spectacular view of the city. At 73 metres (244 ft), it is the largest church in Iceland and the sixth tallest architectural structure in Iceland. It was named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614 to 1674), author of the Passion Hymns. Listening to the organ playing amongst a crowd of tourists and church goers is a must see. The church is home to an impressive organ that towers over 15 metres tall and weighs 25 tons. It was constructed by the German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn in 1992. There are 102 ranks, 72 stops and 5275 pipes.

There’s a lot more to do on Skólavörðustígur. There are cozy and quaint cafés, coffeehouses and stylish boutique shops offering Icelandic clothing and lifestyle for a price.

Read on for my band reviews of the day.

Band #1: When ‘Airy Met Fairy @ Harpa Kaldalón 10:40pm  

The pop trio stepped on Kaldalón’s stage with illuminated costumes. When ‘Airy Met Fairy is a perfect and clever mix of emotional and strong instrumentals with mesmerizing vocals. Angelic vocals floated throughout the room while flowery movements were made from front woman and singer-songwriter Thorunn Egilsdottir. They were an interesting mix of pop and dark, electronic powerful songs. It was where sweet met dark.

When ‘Airy Met Fairy’s set had powerful and soulful ambiance. Soft lights were wrapped beautifully around mic stands, drum kits, and synthesizer. The group had great chemistry on stage as they never took their eyes off each other. One moment there was joyful pop dancing from the stage and other a sad, emotional piano piece. Musicality of the band was spot on with drowning drums being the backbone of the music.

Band #2: Grísalappalísa @ Harpa Silfurberg 11:30pm 


What’s with Icelandic punk bands and glitter? Countless number of empty beer bottles coated the floor of Silfurberg, a sign of what was about to come as Grísalappalísa absolutely torn up the venue with a fast paced, flamboyant and jazzy punk sound that is rarely heard. Grísalappalísa, the seven member pop punk band, started off the show with a seemingly touching and smooth saxophone tribute to Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.” Then, the grunge of guitars kicked in and the show everyone was waiting for finally began.

With an excited Grísalappalísa’s cult following, the gig was packed. Everyone rushed to the front of the stage as the bands frontman Gunnar Ragnarsson, crowd surfed not once but five times. The rest of the night, the band spent bringing boxes and boxes of Gull beer to the crowd. Their drinking fueling the energy they put forth and exciting their loyal following. The hour and a half gig was explosive.

Grísalappalísa is definitely a punk band, but what sets them aside from other countless bands in the genre is that they combine sounds that really shouldn’t be involved with punk music like jazzy saxophone solos. Ragnarsson’s high pitched vocal style was juxtaposed with co-singer Balder Baldursson’s thick and deep screams. All the unlikely elements and chaotic energy levels made Grísalappalísa shine. It worked amazingly.

Band #3: TUSK @ Harpa Kaldalón 

TUSK is a unique experience to see live. The four member group took to the stage at Kaldalón to showcase their amazing musical talent. Their set was complete with a synth, grand piano, drum set, guitarist and a passionate bassist. The gig started and the music began to freely flow naturally. Jazz, pop, rock and other genres mixed into air.

Confusion. That is what the experience was. The band seemed to start off warming up and tuning their instruments. The random music did not stop the entire set. There were no transitions into different songs. TUSK does not have songs. Period. Improvisation is TUSK. Slapping bass and jazz piano were the stars of the show. The group spent the entirety of the one and a half hour gig silent. They clearly put focus and emphasis on the music itself than speaking or interacting with the crowd, even as a few jeers and praises were sent their way when one someone created a complicated solo. The band followed the path of free-form playing and with that choice, no two gigs are alike, every song composed on the spot, never to be played again.

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