Iceland Airwaves 2006: Wednesday and Thursday; Sightseeing and Hot Club de Paris

NOTE: This is the first part in my much delayed “who knows how long this is going to take” series on my concert-going experience at the Iceland Airwaves festival this year in Reykjavik (yes, I finally learned how to spell it without looking it up), Iceland. Enjoy!

OCTOBER 19, 2006

Yesterday I go into town somewhere between 6 and 7am. I’m not even quite sure. I rode on the plane from JFK literally surrounded by We Are Scientists. The cute one was 2 rows in front of me, I think the other cute one was two rows in back, the funny one was back and to the right, and their tech guy (who’s butt crack I saw about 16 times over the course of the 5 hour flight…seriously) was diagonal from me. I ended up behind them when they made us go through customs upon ARRIVAL at the airport. (It’s really so much fun trying to see if you have any sort of balance to take your shoes off one at a time after a red-eye transcontinental flight.) Ended up losing there somewhere along the line.

I’m a bit sad I didn’t get to see them last night (Wednesday) because Rachel and I decided to book a tour to see the Northern Lights rather than hit the shows last night–the first “official” night of the festival. I say official in quotes because yes, it’s officially the start of the Iceland Airwaves festival, but really the main days are tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday. It’s when the biggest bands play and when most people are finally in town.

It looked a lot less cooler than this in person. I had to leave my shutter open a really long time.

Even though my cell phone seems to be in working order (I’m on some OgVodofone network), it has refused to change time to match my new time zone, so now I have to keep adding 4 hours to the time when I look at my phone. Then in the afternoons I have to add 12 because they use a 24-hour clock here. Believe you me, it gets totally confusing when I try to set my alarm at 5pm to go off at 19:45pm Iceland time to wake up from my nap. “Add 12 to 5pm, then add 2:45, minus 12, minus 4, er…” (This is usually when I start crying.)

Yesterday I basically got all the Reykjavik touristy stuff out of the way–yup, in ONE DAY. This city is so tiny, and there ain’t much to do here but drink, eat, and try to stay warm. I got to see the ridiculously scary-looking church, Hallgrimskirkja (which I will continue to simply call “The Church” as there’s no way in hell I will ever be able to remember its proper 14-letter name).

The imposing Hallgrimskirkja church.

We went up the bell tower and got a great view of the city.

On top of the world, and freezing my butt off. I was also really upset that I forgot to bring my polarizing filter with me to Iceland.

Saw the Sun-Craft sculpture on the north shore, which is a modern-day representation of Iceland’s viking past, and we scared some ducks and swans by Tjorn lake as well as spotted the most bizarre looking clouds.

Up close and personal with the ducks and swans of Tjorn lake.

I swear, this is how these clouds really looked. I’m NOT making this stuff up.

This afternoon we did some more touristy stuff, walking around Austurvollur square on our way to meet Jasper at Hresso. There we saw the Althingi houses of Icelandic parliament and the country’s man cathedrial, Domkirkja. At Hresso I bought two official Iceland Airwaves Naked Ape tshirts, one of the band Reykjavik! for me and one of Jeff Who? for someone totally awesome.

Around 4:30pm we headed to the record store 12 Tonar, because Rachel wanted to check out this band she’d heard of called Hot Club de Paris, from Liverpool, England. We got there maybe 10-15 minutes before the band was supposed to go on. It wasn’t crowded at all so we headed down this steep circular staircase to check out the pop rock cds and vinyl. It was there that we realized that CDs cost around 30 USD. Rachel wanted to buy a Franz Ferdinand painting but I commented that it probably was just for display and not actually for purchase.

As 4:30 creeped closer, the tiny record shop started filling up. By the time the English trio took their places, there was nary room for another body–in fact the crowd started spilling out past the steps leading up to the door, with people staring through the front window to which the bands’ backs were facing. Someone from the record shop started pouring out little plastic cups filled with red wine.

But before they started their set, the Moshi Moshi recording artists asked the crowd if they had any extra water to drink–they didn’t have any because everything is so expensive in Iceland. Someone handed over their bottle of Evian, which Hot Club declared they were not going to give back since guitarist Matthew Smith had a cold–yet for some illogical reason Matthew decided to drink from the bottle first, therfore spreading his germs throughout the entire group as his bandmates swigged from the same bottle.

Hot Club de Paris sing their little hearts out.

Dressed up in sweaters and collared shirts with mussed up hair and day-old stubble (and with bassist Paul Rafferty wearing the dirtiest pair of sneakers known to man), Hot Club looked like a bunch of knacked uni students–which complimented their cheeky brand of harmonized Northern pop perfectly.

Dirty trainers = dirty boy? Hmmm…

Like The Futureheads before them, Hot Club’s strength lies in pretty melodies juxtaposed with diddling guitar lines and make-you-think-twice lyrics. The crowd bopped along as the boys played out songs with giggle-worthy titles like “Your Face Looks All Wrong” and “Sometimesitsbetternottostickbitsofeachotherineachother….” and I found every minute of it to be thoroughly enjoyable. They just dropped an album on October 9th, so I suggest checking them out. They have yet to play the US, but watch out when they do!

Check out the video I made of them performing “Bonded By Blood (A Song For Two Brothers)”:


Published by Laura

I run The Modern

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