Watch out Coachella, Reading and Roskilde; Iceland Airwaves is coming up and the line-up is excellent

SADcars take a look at the music festival and explore its history up to and including 2012 which is the biggest festival so far and already sold out.

Iceland Airwaves music festival is coming up and you know what that means; music and more music plus a bunch of people enjoying the music and life in downtown Reykjavik. The festival started back in 1999 in an airplane hangar. At first it was just one night with local bands playing, basically just a good concert showcasing local bands. Since then it has grown into a 5 day music festival in several venues where upcoming and exciting international bands on the verge of success are mixed with Iceland´s new and established bands. This year, 7000 people (70% foreigners, 30% Icelanders) will enjoy all kinds of bands that take the stage in early November.
Let me try to describe the atmosphere at Airwaves. The festival has been held in the middle of October since the beginning, although now for the first time it will be in the beginning of November. This means that it is usually cold and wet outside and most likely windy. The festival is held in many venues around the downtown area ranging from small bars to big venues such as Harpa concert hall by Reykjavik harbor. The venues are usually assigned a certain genre (e.g. heavy metal, hip hop, rock and roll) which means that if you like a certain type of music more than others, you could stay in one venue the whole evening or even the whole weekend perfectly content. The bigger venues are for the bigger bands obviously. Most people hop between venues and see different bands at different venues all weekend using their bracelets, sounds good right?
This atmosphere is what has inspired music critics such as David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine to write phrases like “the hippest long weekend on the annual music-festival calendar” (also the most popular quote used to describe Airwaves in blogs on the internet apparently).
Concert goers can choose between eight very different venues this year. But what makes Airwaves even more interesting are the off venue shows that pop up in bars, cafes, stores and pretty much everywhere in downtown Reykjavik during the festival. Many of the bands play several sets only one of which is actually on the festival itself. So if you were too late to grab tickets to the actual music festival, don´t worry, the off venue shows are almost an equal to the scheduled events (except for the biggest bands).
During the last 13 years, festival goers have had the chance of tapping their feet to many bands that have since become hugely successful internationally. Some examples of these bands are The Rapture, Hot Chip, Florence and the Machine, The Kills, Fatboy Slim, Block Party, Wolf Parade, TV on the Radio, Flaming Lips, The Shins, Klaxons, Keane and Kaiser Chiefs to name but a few. Airwaves has also been a platform for some Icelandic bands to reach a wide audicence and get their music out there. Bands such as GusGus, FM Belfast, HAM, Retro Stefson, Seabear, Björk, Sóley and múm have rocked the festival. Actually pretty much all Icelandic bands have played there at some point or another.

Iceland Airwaves Twenty Eleven from Bruno Granato on Vimeo.

So this music fest is coming up October 31st – November 4th and the lineup this year looks promising. International bands that are going to grace Iceland with their presence include Django Django, Cheek Mountain Thief, Daughter, Dirty Projectors, Low Roar, Ghostpoet, Me and My Drummer, Shabazz Palaces, The Vaccines and my personal favorite Boy. Of Icelandic bands maybe the biggest one playing the festival this year are the rising stars in folky band Of Monsters and Men. Other big names are Sigur Rós, GusGus, Retro Stefson, Sóley, Lay Low, Sólstafir and Sin Fang. Of up and coming Icelandic bands I would like to recommend a few names such as Ásgeir Trausti, Eldar, Kiriama Family, Ojba Rasta, Samaris, Retrobot and Sykur, all popular bands that are worth noticing. For a list of all the bands, you can view the full line-up here.
You can check out many of these bands and all the rest that didn´t make my list on a Soundcloud from Iceland Airwaves here. You can also listen to a lot of the Icelandic bands for free on Gogoyoko.
For those that have the energy to check out Iceland during the day after a night of barhopping there is plenty to do. You can browse through a lot of cool day tours at the Happy Days site if you are interested in sightseeing, super jeeps, snowmobiling and other fun activities like that. Many people check out the Blue Lagoon Chill which is organized by Airwaves. This event really can´t fail; good music and good people in the Blue Lagoon! And of course you can always just rent a SADcar and drive around yourself exploring the country side. 
Well, I´m gonna go listen to some music now. Take care.


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