October 2014 (my fifth visit)
Well, it would seem that seeing Sigur Rós did have quite an effect on me as I thought it might. I saw them again in July at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark and have tickets to see them once more in Dublin shortly after I return from this trip to Reykjavík.
There would be no repeat of the inclement weather that plagued the Airwaves festival this time around. A certain feeling of peace prevailed as I arrived from Glasgow. My first novel, On A Small Island is away with my editors for its copy-edit and I feel that it will be ready to self-publish sometime in the first half of next year (February 4th as it turned out). This may have something to do with the prevailing sensation of tranquillity.
I am in the middle of reading Morrissey's Autobiography and feel that I must finish it while I'm in Reykjavík even though I don't normally read much while away on holiday. It's just that good.
Sunday 27th: I've finally had my first brush with stardom in Reykjavík. While shopping at the Kringlan Mall I see Kjartan Sveinsson (the now ex-keyboard player and multi-instrumentalist from Sigur Rós) out and about with his daughter. She is blonde and very cute and they have been shopping at Bónus together.
The first night of this year's festival has The Bedroom Community performing in the hallowed Hallgrímskirkja. It is unusual, beautiful and typifies what Airwaves is all about, the availability of music in any part of the city. Amazing.
On Thursday while walking past The English Pub on Austurstræti I hear a band playing inside. Upon further inspection it turns out to be Sindri Eldon and the Ways. They are brilliant and I will strive to see them again if at all possible. Later I see Valdimar play in the meeting room of the hotel I'm staying in and then I head to Harpa to see Ólafur Arnalds perform his new album, ‘For Now I Am Winter’ with the Icelandic Symphony orchestra. It is simply breath-taking.
I finally see Endless Dark on a big stage and then wrap the night up with a marathon set from Yo La Tengo. It took them twenty nine years to get to Iceland but they made it.
The Off-Venue schedule continues to impress the hell out of me with gigs from Dikta and Singapore Sling. They have gone out of their way this year to make the festival more inclusive to the public and there are bands playing everywhere during the daytime.
On Saturday night I see Skepna at Gaukurinn before Icelandic/British band ‘Fears’ who are even better than I had expected. So much so that I make the lead singer fight his way back through the crowd to the dressing room to get me a CD after the show. I round off the night with a visit to Iðno to see Dikta on a big stage for the first time since my first trip to Harpa in 2011. Dikta's performance is immaculate as always and a lot of fun.
The next day I decided to check out Sindri Eldon and the Ways one more time at an off-venue performance as I hadn't quite made up my mind whether he was as good as I originally thought or not. He definitely has something going on but seems to be very uptight as a person and possibly drinks way too much. This time round though he was on his best behaviour as Björk was in the audience at Lucky Records. (I hadn’t figured out at this point that he is actually her son and that the guitarist from The Sugarcubes is his father. That minor epiphany is still to come). It was the second time that I have seen her in the flesh, the first being about twenty years ago in Brisbane when I was working on the Big Day Out tour and she was playing songs from her album ‘Debut’ just as her career was beginning to really take off.
She is still as petit and unbelievably cute as I remember and is wearing one of her little Japanese inspired blue dresses with blue tights and sparkling black shoes with big heels. After not seeing anyone famous for four trips to Reykjavík I have now seen two of my favourite Icelandic artists just days apart from each other. It’s true what they say, it really is a small town.
Since moving here to live I have also found myself swaying drunkenly and singing along to a Billy Joel song (Piano Man?) at Dillon in the very wee hours with the drummer from Sigur Rós but that is another story altogether.