Our last day of Iceland Airwaves 2014 coverage features Zebra Katz, Ghostigital, Lily the Kid, East of My Youth, Kött Grá Pje, Reykjavíkurdætur, Shades of Reykjavik and more!
Like all other festivals, Iceland Airwaves must come to a close. While most festival goers opted to catch the grand finale sensational Flaming Lips show (and I know it really is an amazing live conncert experience because I’ve been lucky enough to photograph them a handful of times in 2014), I decided to catch a bunch of the local talent that I had been narrowly missing all week.
The last of the shows taking place in the 101 district of Reyjavik were all going down in three venues that were luckily all on the same corner which allowed me to catch 9 acts in a little less than 3 hours!
I began my night at Húrra with the all girl rap collective Reykjavíkurdætur. Despite not being able to understand their lyrics, which I’m told range from politics to anal sex, it was still a very energetic and entertaining show.
Next up on the same stage was Lily the Kid whom I had just photographed the night before. This was their third live show ever and the improvement in their performance from the night before was night and day. Their recently released 4 track EP, Mainland, (embedded below the gallery) flows majestically from beginning to end and we look forward to seeing them sculpt their live show to be ethereal as their recorded tracks.
I pulled myself away midway through Lily the Kid’s set to run upstairs to Gaukurinn to catch East Of My Youth. This duo had also been on my shortlist all week and I was happy to catch the last song of their set. They apologized for not playing an encore and jokingly explained that they just didn’t have any more songs to play. I tried to track down some more online but as of now they only have one track, Lemonstars, available to stream (embedded below the gallery) but it will leave you wanting an internet encore too so stay tuned.
Shifting musical gears we ran across the street to Frederiksen for the last few songs of Shades Of Reykjavík, a powerful Icelandic collective of rappers, producers, skaters and video directors who put on an incredible show but once again I had no idea what they were rapping about. The group is compromised of rappers Prins Puffin, Krákan, Elli Grill, ShamanShawarma, who also serves as the producer along with HB Equal and Geimgengill, LaFontaine who is the band DJ and Máni who serves under what the group described as “diverse functions.”
Meanwhile across the street at Húrra, Ghostigital (comprised of former Sugarcubes member Einar Örn Benediktsson & Curver Thoroddsen) was doing their thing. Their heavy beat driven live show is equal parts music, rhetoric and performance art. Einar Örn’s vocals were backed by Curver playing a slew of “instruments” from a vintage walkman to the mixer itself and the trio was punctuated by a tenor sax player.
One more trip across the street to Frederiksen for Kött Grá Pje, a much talked about raucous Icelandic rapper who was performing shirtless on top of the venue’s bar when I walked through the venue door. His bare chest read “This Machine Kills Falafel” and he ran back through the crowd to the stage before I could even turn my camera on. Once again I have no idea what he was rapping about but it was atop some live heavy synths that I was really feeling. I suppose I’m going to need to learn Icelandic if I’m going to get into the authentic Icelandic hip-hop scene.
At this point my big plan was to go back across the street to quickly snag my camera bag and head to Kaffibarinn for DJ Margeir‘s closing set. After fighting my way to the stage at the front of the room to grab my bag it became apparent that there was no way I was going to be able to get my gear out from under everyone and that the only way I was going to make it out of the venue was by crowd surfing.
The energy was in the room was totally huge and I got stuck on the front corner of the stage trying to extricate my bag right as Zebra Katz came out. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Zebra Katz but he is a New Yorker and I get to see him out and about all the time. His first track was massive, his second track even more-so. The crowd was moving in a frenzy and I gave in to it and I’m happy I did. Zebra Katz controlled the collective energy of the room with the precision of a surgeon. He skillfully handpicked audience members from the front rows and brought them on stage where they transformed before our eyes into his back-up interpretive dancers. He ended up having almost as many dancers as The Knife had the previous night. Katz ended his set (and the whole festival) with a teary-eyed thank you to Reykjavik which I understood all too well.
As someone who has attended/worked/photographed a nearly uncountable amount of music festivals, Iceland Airwaves stands in a class of it’s own. It’s got it’s own personality, it’s own regulars, it’s own family.
The lights came on in Húrra and much like the last day of sleep-away camp we begrudgingly began to say our goodbyes. Before disapating the crowd moved out into the streets were we all exchanged stories from the week, our contact info so we can stay in touch and the promises that we’ll see each-other one year from now in the cold windy streets and hot sweaty dance floors of Reykjavik.
[All images edited and uploaded from our home away from home office at Stay.is’ Laugavegur Apartments]