Breakthrough at Iceland Airwaves

If I could attend just one music festival each year, it would be Iceland Airwaves, held October 12–16, in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. Launched in 1999 (in an airplane hangar!), Iceland Airwaves holds parties and performances in a handful of the city’s best venues and sets exciting local talent alongside outstanding international acts—all within a landscape of stunning beauty.

Previous years have included performances by Sigur Ros, The Bravery, Hot Chip, GusGus, TV On The Radio, Bloc Party, Florence and the Machine, and James Blake, while this year’s festival will feature a ton of awesome acts: Beach House, Jenny Hval, Olafur Arnolds, tUnE-yArDs, SBTRKT, Johann Johannsson, Esmerine, Glasser, and SUUNS—several of my favorites, ahh!—just to name a few. And then there’s the Blue Lagoon Chill, which finds bleary-eyed showgoers shedding their hangovers (and their clothes) in the lagoon’s cosmically blue, naturally heated waters—a restorative bath of unprecedented beauties. I’ve seen the pictures.

Oh, I forgot to mention the headlining performance: Bjork, in her hometown of Reykjavik, will present her massively ambitious Biophilia live show, featuring a range of specially conceived instruments (including a digitally controlled pipe organ; a gamelan/celeste hybrid; and a 30ft pendulum that harnesses the earth’s gravitational pull to create musical patterns), a group of special guests, and a 24-member choir. That’s not all. An exhibition “demonstrating the visuals, sounds, and viruses of the world of Biophilia” will coincide with Bjork’s performances. I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds cool. I love life!

Travel plans are made relatively simple and attractive by a number of package deals. Meanwhile, bands that are interested in performing at Iceland Airwaves can submit their applications following the guidelines listed on the festival’s website.

Finally, Reyka Vodka is offering three US bands the opportunity to perform at the festival. Bands just have to upload three original songs, photos, and a biography or link to their website to the official “Breakthrough at Iceland Airwaves” SoundCloud account. Any US-based artist or band can enter the competition. Iceland Airwaves will review and judge all submissions. Prize packages include airfare and hotel accommodations, a performance on the Iceland Airwaves stage, featured airplay on Icelandic radio, access to Iceland Airwaves performances, and a tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle, a 300-kilometer stretch of land, home to waterfalls, geysers, and volcanic craters.

Sounds like a dream.

The contest will close on September 5th and winners will be announced on September 15th. Heroes of the Open End, featuring Stereophile’s Ariel Bitran on lead guitar, might submit an application soon. At the very least, I hope to attend Iceland Airwaves, vicariously, through Ariel. Watch out, Iceland!

R Browne's picture

My wife has lots of relatives in Iceland. Maybe we could crash on someone's sofa. Wait, I just forgot. I just got a job after long term unemployment and will not have any vacation time until next year. I guess I can dream.

Bill Leebens's picture

It sounds as though they'll have more attendees than they have citizens. Perhaps they can fire off a volcanic eruption in honor of the occasion!