Ovrld on the Road: Iceland Airwaves Pt. 1

by Nate Abernethy

Photos by Alisa Longoria

Ovrld on the Road

It’s that time of year again. The Texas summer is gone and Ovrld is packing our bags and seeing what the rest of the world has to offer. Last year we stopped by Toronto and Reykjavik for Indie Week and Iceland Airwaves where we discovered some of our favorite new acts, like The OBGMs, Girl Band and more, many of which went on to have a strong presence at SXSW and make a splash in Austin. This year we’re back at Iceland Airwaves ‘15 and we’re doubling up on our coverage to see what Nordic secrets we can find, once we get past the hill elves of course. We’ll be reporting back with daily summaries throughout the fest and letting you know when and where you can see or hear our top picks for yourself!

One Week Wonder

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After a few days not to mention miles of hitchhiking to Akureyri and back, a glimpse of the Northern Lights and plenty of Brennivin we arrived in Reykjavik for the first official day of Iceland Airwaves 2015. Browsing the day’s lineup, One Week Wonder’s poppy cover of “Einn dans vid mig” had piqued my ears and we headed off to catch the Icelandic trio. Turns out we were in for a duo as one bandmate was missing. Down a man, the band opted for a subdued and intimate set that showcased the band’s songwriting talents. I’ve noticed Icelanders always seem to insist on telling you what the song is about before they perform it, and while many of One Week Wonder’s explanations were undoubtedly tongue in cheek I appreciated the moments where I could see the parallels of the original context of song while still allowing for a listener to assign their own personal meaning to the lyrics. No word on when these newcomers album will drop but you can check out some of their current tracks for free or drop by their page and say hi!

East Of My Youth

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Checking into KEXP’s live stream at KEX Hostel is always a guaranteed good time for the fest’s best acts. We somehow wriggled our way to the front and planted our feet as we staked our claim to what little floor space we could muster as East Of My Youth finished up their soundcheck. Airy vocals with a secret affair for lovelorn lyrics and a committed flair for happy go lucky electro pop, the group was immediately a crowd pleaser. Indeed “happy” might me the best term to describe the band, as frontwoman Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir had a beauty queen smile plastered on her lips from note one. Reminiscent of a hi-fi Lykke Li, electro zips and zaps descended like twinkling stars upon a Reykjavik rave. The instrumentation is a winning amalgamation of unpredictably dance inducing and inherently sensual tones. It’s not all out dance chaos though, with softer subtle undertones remaining a constant presence. There was even some darker elements at play with a brilliant moment of some chopped and screwed backing vocals that was an inspired touch. As East Of My Youth’s sound continues to expand you will definitely want to be one of the cool kids who can claim to have heard them first. As they gear up for the release of their debut album the group currently has a couple of super trippy music videos up, stay tuned to their Facebook for tour dates.


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Staying put at KEX Hostel, right out of the gate there was something eerie and sinister about Fufanu. The band paced like a hungry dog as they waited to start. Guitar wails and electronic licks that sound like a doomed whale’s song in a kaiju-filled sea, Fufanu possessed a presence that makes any venue– including the tiny hostel– feel like an all-encompassing stadium. Formerly more of a techno-oriented ensemble, a theft of their computer containing their unreleased album forced the group to refocus in a new direction. I suppose crime does pay, as Fufanu’s newfound high intensity punk rock sound made them one of the best acts I have ever seen. Despite the intensity there are still some incredible radio-friendly rhythms at play as vocalist Kaktus Einarsson strutted and scrambled like a gangly Elvis doing the chicken dance. Clambering from ledge to ledge, perched precariously on amps, rails and anything else that looked like a questionable foothold, Einarsson worked the crowd. At one point he made sure to give the camera a taste of booty sweat as he thrusted and thrashed about an inch from the lens. From noise rock to self aware serenade, the combination of the electronic drums with the live ones is disorienting as the sonic wall of sound engages you until you can’t tell which way is up. Fufanu leaves everything out there quite literally as nearly every band member’s instruments are tossed to the ground in a mad scramble. It’s comforting to know that if the cold gets to us we can pack it in early, as we have undoubtedly already seen the absolute best act of Iceland Airwaves. You can pre-order Fufanu’s new album Few More Days To Go out November 27th right now, I’ve already been whispering sweet nothings to my record player preparing it for the incoming heavy usage.

Junius Meyvant

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The centerpiece of Iceland Airwaves isn’t any musical act in my opinion, it’s the Harpa concert hall itself. A massive, glittery jewel of architecture with four venues inside its depths, it’s one of the first sights that greets your eyes as you walk towards the harbor. Despite the sheer scope of Harpa, Júníus Meyvant started his set off with simple bass driven tempos before crescendoing into a symphony of keys. Everything Meyvant does seems poised and decisive with his guitar used more as an instrument of evil than a musical one; purposed and pointed guitar licks tantalize the audience’s ears only building to the full potential by the song’s final end. Meyvant may describe himself as “…comfortable as resting under a thick wool blanket with a hot cup of cocoa,” but there is a little taste of everything tucked away in that cup of cocoa. Did I catch an all too brief reggae riff in there? Nah, it just melted into a choir of railroad hobo jangle. Most disconcerting of all are the moments his voice hits a note and sends your hips a’movin’ in a way that only a filthy ’90s R&B jam should. Restrained with bursts of ultra precise belting, Meyvant’s voice seems to carry for miles with merely a gruff whisper. Catch a listen for yourself as his debut EP is available to order now and you can keep an eye on his tour dates.


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Whatever instinct it was that made me turn down the shrooms a friendly Icelander offered me, I will forever be grateful I did as I could barely process Æla’s show sober-ish. Glitter filled the air until it was so thick I’m still coughing up preschool craft projects. An anthropomorphic dong ran wild and a video montage put my gag reflexes to the test. Æla certainly is a site to behold, as they certainly put the question mark in art? punk. As I watched them from the balcony I grew to really appreciate the incredibly cinematic stage placement and admired the effort that went into crafting the accompanying videos. In particular I applaud the GoPro penis shot. Bravo. The visual aspects were bonkers but Æla’s music is also a bit madcap. Rapid fire drum powered tracks are solid, but it’s the drawn out whines that take their time which help Æla stand above sonic comparison. While I felt and was delighted by some definite old school British punk influences, Æla’s tempo changes remain far more unpredictable with arty melodic interludes while maintaining a naturally head bang inducing flow. As most of their songs end abruptly like a statement, I too will leave you with one. I’m two for two seeing naked bands at Iceland Airwaves. Vettlingatök, Æla’s newest album is out now, keep a close eye here for their upcoming shows.

Pink Street Boys

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A minute into Pink Street Boys set, I turned to Alisa, our brave photographer, and simply remarked, “The best Burger Records band that isn’t on Burger Records.” Perhaps unfair but this subset of the genre does start to blend at a certain point. Did Pink Street Boys do anything to change my tune? While at its core the rock n roll riffs remained the priority, the bursts of absolute fuzzed out noise were wisely saved for each track’s penultimate moments with a reverb whirlwind like a demonic batcave. Perhaps most impressive is the absolutely astonishing guitar work at hand; lightning fast sprees of ever climbing strums like an invincible rock n roll mountain sherpa. Pink Street Boys are loud, hard and fast with some excellently executed vocal switchoffs.  The boys provide something for everyone be you the guy orgasmically finger strumming the air living out your own rock n roll fantasy, the girl who just REALLY wants to dance, the bro in the corner head bopping or the cynical journalist reluctanly won over. Listen to the garage rock madness for yourself with their new album or go join their posse.

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