I am SO tired, why can I still not sleep? Today would’ve been perfect for a sleep in if my body would have let me. Instead, I was up relatively early while Karina snoozed through to midday. It was around that time that I got the news from home that our family dog, Schnouty, had died. He was old and I suppose I knew it would happen soon but I was devastated all the same and particularly upset for my Mum who cared for him so lovingly in his later years; for my sister and brother in law who’d given him a home years before when his first people left to live overseas; and for my nephew who’d just lost his first pet. He was the gentlest soul and it broke my heart to be so far away. I couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion in that moment than Karina. She hugged me while I sobbed and immediately called it an admin day before setting me up on the lounge with a blanket and box of tissues. I’m so grateful for her kindness and compassion.
By evening, I’d mopped myself up and pulled it together for Kiasmos. I was really looking forward to this gig after seeing Ólafur Arnalds (half of Kiasmos) only weeks before in Sydney performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the Opera House. His solo work is perhaps best described as Modern Classical but Kiasmos is an entirely different proposition. Their music is very much experimental techno, which sits at the borderline of my musical tastes and well beyond Karina’s. It was a point to far for her so she left me to it and went to check out the acts next door. I can’t deny that there is a logic to her argument that its not music if there’s no instruments but I enjoyed it all the same.
Following the gig and many fraught and failed attempts, I finally managed to meet up with an Instagram friend whom I’d previously only known as @lightshifter – an extremely talented photographer from North Carolina who was at Airwaves in an official capacity. When we realised that we were both going to be there, we vowed to meet up and through a disjointed conversation conducted entirely through Instagram comments, we finally managed to make it happen in a designated corner of Harpa. Bryce (real life name) is utterly charming and I encourage you to check out his photos from the event as he was shooting with something much more substantial than an iPhone and from a far superior vantage point!
We popped in briefly to see Sóley play and wish we could’ve stayed longer having identified her as one of our own, by which I mean she is vegetarian, as are both Karina and I. We found her Guide To Being Vegetarian In Iceland in The Grapevine very helpful (it’s getting better these days but a guide is still handy). She was super sweet but we’d committed to seeing Låpsley back over at the Art Gallery with Bryce and his mates. As we left Harpa we passed the growing queue to get back in – now it was the weekend, the festival crowd had swollen and we feared it might limit our choices. However, after an enchanting set by Låpsley, we headed back and slipped in with ease to see Battles. They were Karina’s pick and a very fine one at that. They definitely had instruments, which they played passionately and tirelessly until they were drenched with sweat and the audience was exhausted from watching!
We weren’t done yet though. Last and the opposite-of-least was Icelandic rock royalty – GusGus – and they were magnificent! They are perhaps the epitome of Icelandic music’s eclecticism ranging from pop to rock to electro to house and everywhere and anywhere in between. Their list of band members is just as fluid and far flung. Emiliana Torrini was a founding member who has long since moved on to international acclaim as a solo artist. The current incarnation is no less impressive and had the crowd eating out of their many and varied hands.
As with Úlfur Úlfur, the audience was just as entertaining as the act itself. We had real life Barbie and pals posing for the cameras, the drug monkey we’d seen a few nights prior still seemingly unaware of where or who he was and moving very slowly, as opposed to the nearby French sisters who were in a chemically enhanced overdrive, one copping off with an unsuspecting but grateful Irish guy. Then there was the very drunk drink spiller who in one instant raised the ire of the man she had spilt on, and the next was fallen into his arms in an embrace something short of true love. By comparison, we were very sober and having a ball taking in the theater of it all.
It was still raining as we made our way home under the shelter of our umbrellas. We were temporarily joined by the Striking Viking from Agent Fresco and Úlfur Úlfur, and his girlfriend as they made a dash for home too. It turns out that he is just human sized after all or perhaps we are growing gargantuan by our Iceland Airwaves experience.