An epic voyage comes to a dramatic climax. From the void darkness of Chaos erupts the final passage in what Rolling Stone Magazine called “The Definitive Account of Icelandic Music and Culture” (needs citation). After many sleepless nights awash with deep thoughts and dramatic fist-shaking towards the sky, I’m finally ready to enrich your lives with a glimpse into the modern marvel that is Iceland Airwaves.
Iceland Airwaves began in 1999 in a large aircraft hangar at the Reykjavik National Airport. Even in those early days it was clear to the people involved that this was destined to become bigger, but none imagined the phenomenal success the festival has seen since then. The venues have now moved from the singular aircraft hangar and into the city, utilizing bars, clubs, museums, cafés, libraries and the new massive music hall; Harpa. This makes it stand out among most music festivals; there are no tents, no mud, no porta-potty.
The festival has specialized in emerging artists, often featuring artists that are on the verge of blossoming into full-fledged fame. Clap your hands say yeah, Rapture, Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend, Flaming Lips, TV on the Radio, Ratatat, Architecture in Helsinki, Klaxons, Sigur Rós, Björk, JJ, Robyn, Toro Y Moi, Bombay Bicycle Club, Mount Kimbie, Efterklang, The Antlers, Ólafur Arnalds, tUnE-yArDs, Beach House, James Murphy, etc…
These are not counting the plethora of fantastic foreign and Icelandic bands that don’t get anywhere near the attention they deserve. Mix this all together and throw in some great venues, Icelandic hospitality and grown-up drinks, congratulations, you now have a great music festival.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. You could, for example, listen to David Fricke of Rolling stone Magazine instead (actual quote this time), who called it “the hippest long weekend on the annual music-festival calendar.” You could also just Google some reviews yourself, they all say the same thing. As an alternative to those visually inclined, I’ve included a short but fantastic documentary about the festival. Watch the video, fall in love with the festival and then come visit me in Iceland. It’s worth it.