Iceland Airwaves 2016 Live Review (11/2): Hinemoa, IamHelgi and Moses Hightower

Hinemoa combined both what they called the “old” them, which is soft and acoustic, and the “new” them, which is more electric and slightly heavier. The mixture of these two genres added variety to the set, working together in a way that mixed sounds up but still provided consistency with their unique and individual style. The vocal harmonies between lead singers Ásta Björg Björgvinsdóttir and Bergrós Halla Gunnarsdóttir were even more angelic than they sound in their single releases. They performed a song that they had just finished recording, making the show at Gamla Bíó the first time it had been played. Although they said that they “don’t even know the name” since it is so new, they introduced it as “Still For a Moment,” which tapped into their new electric style. They closed with “Running Amongst the Stars,” one of the three single releases that are available to stream online. Throughout the 30-minute show, each of the four members remained passionate in their playing, often closing their eyes as they played and smiling through the songs. The performance was short, but strong and moving.


IamHelgi is Helgi Sæmundura: a composer, producer and beatmaker from Iceland. According to his Facebook page, he has over 10 years of experience in the pop and hip-hop industry. Outside of his solo work, he is also a member and producer for the Icelandic band Úlfur Úlfur, an electronic hip-hop group. IamHelgi said that tonight’s set was not actually part of the original festival, making it a somewhat impromptu performance. The show started off with slow electronic beats, building up to heavier sounds and flashing lights before he introduced himself. He successfully engaged with the audience by asking the crowd to step closer to the stage. This made the set feel more intimate and relaxed, which is the same type of feeling his music creates. Because he performed at Húrra, this relaxed scene was amplified with the bar atmosphere. Audience members switched between chatting while IamHelgi played and dancing along to the pounding beats. Even with these spurts of loud background noise, IamHelgi remained focused and smooth in his drops and transitions. Overall, he delivered a strong performance that balanced audience interaction with a kind of background.

Moses Hightower is a big name in Icelandic music, established all the way back in 2007. Groovy guitar, keyboard, a swinging drum beat, complementary percussion and horns combine to create a funky sound, pushing listeners to move and swing along to the strong beats. The lead singer and keyboardist Steingrímur Karl Teague introduced the group by saying that they play slow songs while standing still, and this reflected most of their performance. Their songs are groovy and invite listeners to sway along, but the performers themselves were not inclined to do the same. Each of the members stood mainly motionless with straight-faced expressions, which brought down the energy of the performance. The band did seem to have some sound issues, with the drummer motioning to the sound engineer in the middle of the performance and a few breaks taken in between songs to address plugs and amplifiers. Despite this, audience members were responding nicely, applauding and shouting at the end of each song and in response to Teague’s Icelandic comments in between songs. The musical performance itself was strong. Teague’s vocals were well-executed and beautifully sung, pairing nicely with the backup vocals and harmonies of bandmates Daníel Friðrik Böðvarsson and Andri Ólafsson. They played many of their hits, including their newest single release “Trúnó.” The performance sounded its strongest at the very end, when the group closed out the set with a jam session complete with guitar solos, keyboard riffs and harmonic vocal interjections. This is when the entire group, though they were not looking at or engaging with each other, seemed to vibe together most seamlessly. Although it did not seem as though this was the band’s strongest performance yet, their musical talent was still apparent and the performance lived up to their album recordings.

About mackenziecrosson

Columbia College Chicago Cultural Studies and Multimedia Photojournalism student. Editorial Intern at Chicago-based travel media company OneGlobe Citizen.
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