HomeWorld NewsRock Music Menu: Festival report: Iceland Airwaves simmers and quakes – The Delaware County Daily Times
Rock Music Menu: Festival report: Iceland Airwaves simmers and quakes – The Delaware County Daily Times
November 10, 2023
French electro duo Superjava plays earlier this month at Iceland Airwaves.
(COURTESY OF MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER)
Throughout the year, Rock Music Menu will be traveling to various music festivals around the globe. Keep an eye on this spot to follow along.
It’s become an annual thing for Rock Music Menu to trek over to the fringes of the Arctic Circle for Iceland Airwaves, a music festival in the northernmost capital region in the world, this year taking place Nov. 2 to 4.
From last Thursday through the weekend though, it was less “land of ice and snow” and more “is that volcano gonna blow?”
The southwest coast of Iceland was in the middle of being shook by over 10,000 earthquakes in a 10-day period, the majority of them small but a good number in the 3-to-4-magnitude range.
The seismic activity was stemming from the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 30 minutes from festival center Reykjavík, where there is expected to be an eruption imminently.
The iconic travel destination Blue Lagoon had stopped being serviced by tourism companies due to its proximity to the ground shift.
None of that, however, slowed or put a damper on Airwaves, with the majority of festivalgoers blissfully unaware of the situation as they moved about between any of the 10 official venues hosting performances by artists from all corners of the world representing many different genres.
From the sweaty dive club Gaukurinn to the peaceful Fríkirkjan — a church consecrated in 1903 — and the cavernous Art Museum, there was something and somewhere for everyone.
The punk sounds of Glasgow, Scotland’s Gallus had Gaukurinn packed like a powder keg on the first night, and that seemed to be a running theme as the fest went on each day.
One of the buzzed-about acts to play there, both before and after the set, was controversial Ireland rap act Kneecap.
Known for their outspoken political views, the Belfast trio commanded the stage Friday night from the moment the lights went down.
Upstart French electro duo Superjava also played the spot Friday, but the next night did a second set at perennial favorite fest location, KEX Hostel, which utilized its first- and second-floor for stages.
The pair were easily one of the more talked about bands with their Phoenix-meets-Cut-Copy sound making it difficult not to end up dancing after the first few notes of any given song.
Emerging Finnish singer Goldielocks expressed genuine shock at both the turnout to her KEX show and regional interest in her music, which she noted Spotify metrics showing a spike in Iceland.
Fellow Finns Virta followed her with a musically enthralling take on what was billed as “jazz-tinged electroacoustic.”
Speaking of takes, on Saturday, Canadian Inuk singer-songwriter Elisapie, raised in a small village in the northern area of Quebec, was nothing short of captivating as she delivered an impressive mix of covers of Blondie, Metallica and more in her native language Inuktitut as well as originals at the culture house Idno.
It almost became a game of trying to recognize the song by its melody before a collective lightbulb went off and the audience realized she was singing reworkings of, say, “Heart of Glass” and “The Unforgiven.”
Contrasting the historical and comfy feel of Idno and the welcoming nature of most of the other venues, the new-ish IA Center came off as a bit sterile, mainly as it’s just an area sectioned off by curtains in the same building where a massive flea market occurs each weekend.
It’s hard not to imagine Nigerian/Irish singer/songwriter Caleb Kunle faring much better in a place like KEX instead of the IA Center, which lacked any semblance of personality or vibe.
That’s a minor qualm though, especially considering there’s so many other options, like the majesty of seeing Icelandic singer/songwriter JFDR or the Belgian synthwave of The Haunted Youth in the landmark Gamla Bíó, an old cinema now doing duty as an event house.
Same with seeing Canadian electronic dream pop duo Ghostly Kisses mesmerize in Fríkirkjan.
And while the festival itself was more than enough to keep even the most jaded tourist busy, there was plenty to do without venturing too far outside of Reykjavík.
No. 1 on the list was Sky Lagoon, a geothermal spa located a mere 15 minutes from the city center and for many taking the place of the aforementioned Blue Lagoon in both cost and convenience.
Overlooking Kársnes Harbour, the man-made lagoon was ideal for either recovering from the night prior or a bit of pampering before the evening began. Offering a seven-step spa treatment called “The Ritual,” including a sauna and cold plunge, it’s something you’re not going to find near other music festivals.
Then again, you also won’t likely deal with the worry of volcano eruptions at other multi-day fests, but that’s just one of the many unique charms of the Iceland Airwaves experience.
Vinyl of the Week
Keep an eye on this spot as each week we’ll be looking at new or soon-to-be-released vinyl from a variety of artists. It might be a re-pressing of a landmark recording, special edition or new collection from a legendary act. This week, it’s Whitesnake’s David Coverdale re-revisiting his roots in Deep Purple.
• Whitesnake, “The Purple Album: Special Gold Edition”
David Coverdale was a relatively unknown 21-year-old singer-songwriter when he joined Deep Purple in 1973, but he quickly established himself when he went on to record three classic albums alongside the legendary U.K. rockers before embarking on a fresh musical journey a few years later with his band Whitesnake.
Now Coverdale is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his Deep Purple debut with a special version of “The Purple Album,” Whitesnake’s 2015 tribute to his three-year tenure with the group.
Newly remixed, remastered and expanded, the new edition features previously unreleased recordings, including the very demo that secured Coverdale’s spot with Deep Purple.
Coverdale and Whitesnake cherry-picked gems from the Deep Purple albums “Burn” and “Stormbringer” — both in 1974 — and 1975’s “Come Taste the Band,” delivering inspired takes on fan favorites like “Lay Down Stay Down,” “Lady Double Dealer,” and “You Keep on Moving.”
“The Purple Album: Special Gold Edition” is available as a two-CD/Blu-ray set and a two-LP set on gold vinyl.
The CD/Blu-ray version goes beyond the original with the addition of live recordings and concert videos from “The Purple Tour,” official music videos, and an assortment of previously unreleased material, including six alternate mixes of album tracks. The Blu-ray also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the album’s making and a song-by-song commentary by Coverdale.
Most exciting on the CD set is the addition of the four-song demo Coverdale submitted to Deep Purple in hopes of becoming the band’s next singer.
Recorded in 1972 with his former band, The Fabulosa Brothers, the reel-to-reel tape was extensively restored after Coverdale stumbled upon it among his late mother’s belongings.
The collection also features several demos he recorded while working on songs for “Stormbringer.”
Look for “The Purple Album: Special Gold Edition” online and from all respectable retailers who carry vinyl.
To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out his website at thechroniclesofmc.com.