Photography by Nina Corcoran
Fighting against the icy temperatures of Reykjavík in November, Iceland Airwaves’ 16th edition produced heaps of heat during its five days of hip-hop, rock, electronic, and experimental noise music. A genre-crossing concoction of musical riches, it’s one of the most diverse festivals in history and undoubtedly one of the best. There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all festival” anymore. If you’re looking for DIY hysteria, perky pop, or something obscurer – perhaps flotation tank-ish – Iceland Airwaves offers something for everyone. From dream-pop romancers Beach House to full symphonic orchestras supporting John Grant and the towering list of Icelandic bands on the bill, the festival tailors to your every desire. Part of the festival’s appeal is how the magical atmosphere of its small host, Reykjavík, focuses on embracing the festival. Record stores, hostels, coffee shops, and window displays of clothing outlets are transformed into live music venues (every communal space is a stage), and it’s utterly astonishing to experience.
Iceland Airwaves inspires the kind of daydream all music lovers spend years thinking about. It’s one of the most welcoming and easy-to-get-around festivals in the world, too, and even if, like us, you weren’t planning on eating Hákarl (rotten shark) while you’re there or getting the chance to meet Björk, it will happen (because sometimes a girl’s got to call for an immediate global protest). All things considered, the magic of the festival is everlasting. Outstretched hands, smiling faces, and elated human bodies are Iceland Airwaves in a nutshell.
Takk, góða nótt, so long, and thanks for all the fish. Here are our highlights. See you same place, same time next year.
Senior Staff Writer