Ovrld on the Road: Iceland Airwaves Pt. 2

by Nate Abernethy

Photos by Alisa Longoria

Ovrld on the Road

While most of you prepped for the first round of FunFunFun Nites, our crazier Ovrld contributors have opted to provide some alternative programming and wrapped up day two of Iceland Airwaves ‘15. After yesterday provided us with one act we’ve already declared the best of the fest and enough well dressed, reverse centaur cock to last me a lifetime, we carried on to day two to tackle the good, the bad and …the Belgian?

Soffia Bjorg

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As we settled into what has quickly become our home base at SlippBarinn thanks to the delicious free soup and maybe some complimentary booze, we heard a crackle as Soffía Björg prepared to take the stage. A guitar rang like a luxury doorbell fit only for a queen of extravagance, just a single strum and Björg’s voice softly carried across the room. A sound subtle and smooth accompanied by a positively melting voice and electric touches of ethereal ghosts, Björg is a bit reminiscent of the singular redeeming quality of season two of True Detective (aside from Farrel’s sick stache of course), the musical stylings of Lera Lynn. Cut out half that pound your whiskey melancholy and sprinkle in some very serious soul, bam! now you’ve got something cooking. Björg seems to compose with the big picture in mind as her voice wavers when it should while always tenacious throughout her performance. In no hurry to depart the stage the stylings take hold of you and for a moment our mad rush of gobbling free food and dashing from venue to venue seemed to pause as well. You can take a peek at her new music video or track down her next gig.


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After a brief break to collect our thoughts and recover our livers the day carried on with our first stop at the Reykjavik Art Museum for the dark atmospheric pop band Himbrimi. Taking in the stage outfits, the lighting not to mention the general demeanor, Himbrimi really wants you to think they’re dreary as shit. Act as dark as you want but you ain’t fooling anybody, with tunes more moody than melancholy, Himbrimi can let loose some serious fun. Keys stumble in an intentionally meandering manner before the charade ends with the cue of the drums and the bass kicks into high gear. Like a gothic drenched Bats For Lashes, by the chorus they can hang with the best of the pop queens. Toms pound and snap you to attention while a super funky psych bass slips past your guard and lures you into trance. Their third single “Give Me More” from their upcoming album, however did not fare as well in a live format. The over the top ballad struck me as the perfect score for a cringe-inducing candlelit love scene in a Will Ferrell comedy. They recovered rapidly from the night’s only misstep as they parlayed into a partytastic tune with a lovely thumping bass and high pitched keys that send an euphoric shiver down your spine. Shaking off the body high we ducked out of Himbrimi in good spirits and heading off into the night. You can cop their brand spanking new album right now or go drop them a line.


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“I’ve made a huge mistake,” was all I could think as I was pinned against a wall inside of KEX Hostel completely drenched in sweat from the surrounding body heat. This place was the stuff of a fire marshall’s nightmares. Meanwhile, many remained envious of our potential fiery fate as a line of disappointed fans stretched around the block. Even a hint of bass or the screech of feedback during soundcheck sent the crowd into a feeding frenzy like a school of molly popping sharks. As things got started, it was loud as fuck despite GusGus member Högni Egilsson missing in action. The group took their sweet time to slowly build with lead vocalist Daníel Ágúst Haraldsson’s voice leading the way. With an androgynous sound, Haraldsson’s crooning was warming and dynamic as GusGus’s wide range of noise sneakily shifts from electronic bleeps and bloops to blasts of sound that reminded me of Dumbo’s trumpet. Suddenly Egilsson appeared onstage and the audience went apeshit, the hostel guests experiencing full blown panic attacks as the living breathing fire hazard before them blocked off their only escape. The music of GusGus remained as compelling as ever, but the mayhem of their live energy seemed intent on taking over the world or at least any venue that dared let them enter. You can always join GusGus’s exclusive cool kid club or get yourself a copy of their most recent album.

Agent Fresco

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Almost by dumb luck we stumbled across the gorgeous Fríkirkjan church in time to see Agent Fresco mid-performance. My own previous exposure to the band had been solely the hard prog-rock facet that recently won them much acclaim with their full length album, Destrier. Orange tinged stained glass lighting creeped in as to my surprise there were no amp stacks or electric guitars but instead a softer setting with string instruments and an intimate tone. By the conclusion of the first song I recognized that it was nothing short of amazing to see the band in such a different light and catch of glimpse of their full sonic spectrum. Every moment felt soulful and perfectly executed but above all else personally heartfelt. Frontman Arnór Dan Arnarson spent time conversing with the audience and shared his personal experience coping with the death of his father at the cruel hands of cancer, and how the next song had formed by pushing aside his grief and instead focusing on empathy for his mother’s own loss. Soulful precision and somber belts filled the church but at times the hard rock edge leaked through wonderfully with a screech of the strings. Genuinely moved and further impressed by the scope of Agent Fresco’s talent we passed under the church’s organ to see what else Reykjavik has to offer. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Agent Fresco’s second full length album and keep an eye on their tour dates.


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Exhausted from the trekking, drinking and general festival madness we resigned ourselves to just one final show. We checked into Iðnó for Belgian band BRNS having not a clue what to expect. As the show got started a hauntingly beautiful voice rang out and my head snapped around wildly; none of the bandmembers that I could see were singing out that sweet angelic tone. Suddenly I realized the drummer was responsible and my jaw dropped; it’s already incredibly difficult to dual wield the vocal and percussion weapons but to maintain such a controlled and flawless performance was something I had never seen. While the drummer certainly felt like the centerpiece of the set, there was also some unbelievable guitar play at work. Expertly synchronized riffs battled it out back and forth with the skillful percussion all while waves of keyboards washed over the crowd. BRNS’s setup itself is something to behold, between the rainbow colored contraption that looks like factory equipment stolen from Willy Wonka to the tinker totter looking xylophone and the choir of melodicas. Surprisingly minimalist at times considering the extreme setup, gradually the elements came together in a cacophony of noise like a storm building as each band member brought their own style. The collaborative nature of BRNS allowed every small human mechanic to be illustrated onstage as you witnessed something musically one of a kind be created. Electric zaniness frequently broke out and I felt as if I was tumbling down the rabbit hole while the crowd began testing the floor’s weight limit, participating in the bounding anthem that is BRNS’s big single “Mexico.” Given the right opportunity, “Mexico” is simply the tip of the iceberg as every track of the night was a bonafide hit. There’s some tough competition at Airwaves but BRNS proved to easily be one of the best offerings and with some serious staying power you may be seeing quite a bit of BRNS in the not so distant future. As someone who is moving to Belgium in less than a week, BRNS made this kid from a music city feel very welcome. You can still give their album Patine a listen or ensure they come visit your city very soon.

Nate Abernethy is a magical sprite we captured and forced to write for us (and occasionally loan out to Loser City). He somehow also wound up with a twitter account @NateAbernethy