We have popped together a little Iceland Airwaves diary for those of you that follow our page. We had so much fun in Reykjavik and hope to return in 2011.
If you like looking at photos of us, we have many more photos on our Facebook page, so please come and have a look there. For those of you who prefer moving images – here is a link to our tour video: http://youtu.be/qn3ZytwP3KM
Wednesday 13 October
There’s a definite chill on the wind but its not bothering me too much. Its 4am and I have about 40kgs of bags to load into the back of a cab en route to the first pick up point. The heavy lifting and the early start are the furthest thing from my mind as I think of nothing but the imminent adventures that are about to unfold as Yunioshi will be playing Iceland Airwaves 2010. “We’re playing Airwaves!”, I mutter to myself as the biggest grin starts on my face and doesn’t shift until our return six days later.
Gatwick airport is a strange place in the morning. An atmosphere of excitement and tiredness as well as an impressive family of blonde mullets at the Ukraine check-in desk besides us. We check in our gear – no mean feat due to the sheer volume of music equipment we are taking out with us. We make our way to the departure lounge and talk about everything we are about to do, our Iceland Airwaves slot and off-venue gigs we’re playing, the friends we’ll be meeting up with and the bands that we want to watch.
Our adventures will start almost immediately with an off-venue gig at Kaffibarinn, a bar previously owned by Damon Albarn and the location for a lot of the action in the film “101 Reykjavik”. Our official Iceland Airwaves gig slot takes place at Faktory, one of the new official Airwaves venues, the day after. On Saturday we will be playing an off-venue outdoor show at Nikita Garden. There are rumours of additional gigs too. We board the plane and strap ourselves in. We can’t wait to get there.
The landscape of Iceland is both brutal and beautiful. As we fly in to land at Keflavik airport on the outskirts of Reykjavik it’s a clear morning and light enough to see the scars on the ground and the spikes of volcanic rock dusted with light scrub. This place feels alive.
We land and are collected by Iceland Airwaves transport and taken to our apartment on Laugavegur – the main street that snakes through downtown Reykjavik 101. Its dotted with many different kinds of shops and bars. Most are brightly coloured and dressed up in corrogated iron. All have a tale to tell and at 4pm are already rammed full of people spilling out onto the street. We’ll find ourselves wandering up and down this road many many times over the next six days as all of our gigs are either on or just off of this street.
We offload our gear in the apartment (a real beauty found by Anna) and take our first trip downtown to find the venues that we’ll be playing at. We quickly discover that the venues are no more than 10 minutes from each other. We are meeting up with Hallur, Raggi, Janus and Sunna aka Icelandic electro band Bloodgroup. They’ve just finished an off-venue gig in a music store and we’re all excited to see each other again. Its been a good nine months since we last met up and the chatter and beer quickly starts to flow!
Kaffibarinn is our first gig our of Airwaves adventure. Its not quite four hours after we landed and already we’re loading gear into a venue for our 9pm show. Kaffibarinn is a unique bar and offers a unique type of gig. Its a must play venue and the most famous bar in Reykjavik. The intimate main bar is where we set up. It’s cramped but cosy with reddish warmth of low light. We’re really amongst the swelling crowd as we start to introduce ourselves. There is no room to move as we blast into “Ghetto Getgo”. The crowd jump and push into us, knocking mic stands and pedal boards. Its rawkus, energetic and amazing to be so close to the crowd! There are no monitors, no sound man and the music is as loud and energetic as the crowd. We’re sweaty and feel like we’ve been baptised by Reykjavik! We hang around after the show and watch a ten piece funk orchestra, avoiding the trombone slide as it crashes into the audience. Amazing.
We catch up with Bloodgroup at a bar called Bakkus. They have just played their first show at Nasa and offer us a gig with them here on Saturday. Who could say no to that?! We continue drinking into the small hours and discover the Icelandic passion for Table Football. Its been a long day.
Thursday 14 October
Thursday is one of the biggest days for us Yunioshi types. We finally get to play at Iceland Airwaves. Our soundcheck slot is at around 2pm and we play at 11pm. We’re all a little anxious but very excited. Faktory is like us – new kids on the block for Airwaves. Its your typical venue and not unlike the Social in Nottingham. Soundcheck goes well and puts us all at ease. We can’t wait to get onto the stage and unleash some Yunioshi for the Airwaves crowds. We make our way to a lovely intimate bar called Hemmi & Valdi along Laugavegur to catch up with our friend Svavar Knútur. He plays a short set of beautiful songs before our very own drummer Hakushi transform into Spaceships are Cool and plays a short acoustic set. We are asked if we’d like to play an acoustic set in there on Sunday evening with Svavar. Hell yes!
At about 9:30pm we leave our apartment, heading down Laugavegur towards Faktory. Its dark and slightly drizzling. It feels like late November in Nottingham with the chill in the air. The venues bustling but not heaving and French Canadian band Polipe are onstage playing some West Coast style refried 60’s French Pop. Their drummers insane. Cometh the hour, cometh the band. Its our turn now and we launch into “Ghettp Getgo”. The sirens blast out and immediately the crowd start to get into it. Icelandic audiences don’t hold anything back! The crowd seem to enjoy our gift of jelly eggs before we strike up “When”. We tell them its because their water is ‘eggy’ and that we all had an eggy shower before we came out. There’s a knowing nod all round. Our last track is Thunderbird and by this time everyone is jumping. Its been a great night. We’ve had a fantastic response and we’re all sweaty and grinning like freaks! We drink through the night and party ‘til 6am powered by adrenalin and Gull lager.
Friday 15 October
Friday doesn’t start for us ’til late in the day. After a party at Gogoyoko headquarters, the main event today are Bombay Bicycle Club playing in a tiny hostel and then Bloodgroup play their second show at the enormous Nasa venue. Both gigs are packed out with people. We manage to get to the front to watch Bloodgroup perform one of the best live sets this year. Its the first time we’ve seen them play with new singer Sunna and their string quartet. Electrobeats bang around the building like they own the place. They will be huge real soon. They finish with a cover of “Safety Dance”. Raggi later tells me that they did that for us. On the way out I get grabbed by a familiar face in the crowd – it’s Lilja, Bloodgroups old singer. She’s heavily pregnant and about to pop in a few weeks. She loved the show and we all arrange to meet up later. Bakkus ends up being the familiar late night retreat as we all fall further in love with Reykjavik.
Saturday 16 October
Saturday is a busy day for us. Its starts with a Spaceships are Cool gig in a Hairdressers – joined by Hallur and Raggi from Bloodgroup on a Moog. After the gig we have to leg it to Nikita Garden for a Yunioshi off venue gig. The stage is right in the middle of a half pipe flanked by amps on each deck. You can’t say you’ve been in a band until you’ve had to run up a quarter pipe to change the volume on your amp. Its outdoors and raining really heavily. The crowd are under a big tarpaulin and huddled together. They are a dedicated bunch that’s for sure. A great crowd once again and we’re beginning to recognise familiar faces in the audience. After this gig we grab some food before we have to nip to our last gig of the day at Bakkus. The gig itself is probably the most rawkus yet. The place is totally packed out from front to back. As we tear into our first tune we need bouncers to push the crowd back as everyone jumps and falls into us as we play. I’ve lost my mic already and we’re only about 30seconds in! I love this place! The place is going crazy as we finish with “Thunderbird”. My mic gets grabbed from me during the last moments of the song and the crowd finish the song off for us shouting out “Listen to the band with the robot-funk-shit”. This is how gigs should be. Bloodgroup take to the stage after us. Its great to see them play in a place like this. The rawkus mood continues and the beer continues to flow freely. Its another great night/morning in Reykjavik!
Sunday 17 October
Sunday is our last day and we treat ourselves to a trip to The Blue Lagoon courtesy of Iceland Airwaves. Its a beautiful place and a great place to relax and sooth our rock bruises from the previous few days. Covered in white clay we sink a few cold beers in the hot spa water and reflect on our first Iceland Airwaves. We’ve met some amazing people, made some great connections, received numerous invites to play gigs and we’ve all become even closer as a band. Our final gig of Airwaves is a leisurely affair as we join up with Svavar again at Hemmi & Valdi for a short acoustic set in the evening. The place is packed out with people standing where they can. The tunes go down well with everyone and we all have a laugh together. We thank them for having us in their brilliant city and declare that we really want to return to play for them next year. We’re a little overwhelmed by the response. They want us back next year. Fingers crossed! We make our final trip back up Laugavegur to our appartment. The light clicks off and I realise how much I’ll miss this place, my roomies and all our Reykjavik friends. Back to the UK early tomorrow morning. Back to the real world. Thank you Iceland Airwaves. Yunioshi loves you!