Iceland Airwaves 2016 Live Review (11/4): Ylja, Beliefs and Oyama

Ylja at IÐNÓ – 9:40pm


Ylja is an Icelandic group that combines aspects of indie folk and acoustic genres, including dreamy and flowing progressions, to create a truly one-of-a-kind sound. Their style is reminiscent of the folk tunes of The Civil Wars but add subtle electric twists. Originally a duet when it formed in 2008, they are now a five-piece group driven by powerful harmonic vocals. Their Airwaves performance was seamless. The vocals of Bjartey Sveinsdóttir and Gígja Skjaldardóttir demonstrated beautifully executed harmonies and sheer talent. Perhaps the group’s strongest song was “Commotion,” also the name of their album released in 2014. The sounds of the two vocalists and acoustic guitarists, bassist, electric guitarist and drummer engulfed the entire venue, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the sounds. Sveinsdóttir and Skjaldardóttir interacted with the audience, inviting them to fill the floor.They closed the show by leaving the stage and bowing to the crowd as the band continued to play a smooth jam session, which allowed the show to end less abruptly. Their consistent smiling, immersion in their performance and positive energy made the show an intimate and enjoyable experience. 

Beliefs at IÐNÓ – 10:40pm

Beliefs is from Toronto and was started by Josh Korody and Jesse Crowe, arising from their love of ‘90s music. Tapping into the alternative and indie rock style of bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, Beliefs utilizes ringing guitars, hard drum beats and reverberations that keep their songs upbeat with a hard rock feel. For a rock group, their performance lacked a kind of stage presence and energy that motivated the audience to relax and rock along. The band didn’t introduce themselves until halfway through the set and barely interacted with the crowd. Their shoegaze and dream-pop influences were present, but these dreamier tunes were mixed with songs from a style of harder rock, resulting in a lack of consistency in style and feeling. For these more hardcore songs, a bass-heavy sound balance made the songs overly noisy, forcing Crowe’s vocals to become lost in the instrumentals. The band members did not seem necessarily pleased to be there, which further brought down the energy of the room. Audience members were slightly swaying if they happened to move at all. Crowe’s vocals were strong and the band was noticeably in sync, but the performance as a whole was not particularly satisfactory.

Oyama at Gaukurinn – 12:40am


Oyama is a five-member noise-rock band from Rejkyavík that formed in 2012. When listening to their records, the melodies are smooth, relaxing and dreamy, transporting listeners to a different world. Their set included a range of songs from those off of their first EP I Wanna, LP Coolboy and a new song that has not yet been released. The ringing sounds of their guitar effects and cymbal crashes came to life on stage, where the blending of instrumentations engulfed the bar venue that hosted a crowded audience. The show ended with a band-wide jam session, where guitarist and vocalist Úlfur Einarsson reached up to scratch his guitar on the speakers overhanging the edge of the stage. Each band member left the stage one at a time after the set had ended until only the drummer was left playing a solo. Moments like this added a new element to their live experience than listeners can receive from recordings, making their show immersive and worthwhile.

About mackenziecrosson

Columbia College Chicago Cultural Studies and Multimedia Photojournalism student. Editorial Intern at Chicago-based travel media company OneGlobe Citizen.
This entry was posted in Daily Blog, Iceland Airwaves, Iceland Airwaves 2016, Live Review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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