Icelandic dispatch: The vacation buzz while waiting for Kraftwerk tickets

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The Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik

I’ve been in Reykjavik for roughly a week and it’s safe to say I’ve fallen hard for this beautiful, frozen city and it’s very impressive annual music festival. It might be a bit of the vacation buzz talking here, but I can’t think of a thing to not like about Iceland Airwaves, and that’s saying a lot because I can be a bit tough to please when it comes to the grind that can be slogging through a music fest.

For starters, Iceland Airwaves is a very well-run operation. The venues are all clean and the staff friendly, the crowds are great and the lineup is as perfect as you want it to be. Oh, and I would be doing this festival and the city a major disservice if I didn’t mention the natural beauty of Iceland, which serves at the perfect backdrop to the soundtrack of your Airwaves experience. With an extremely diverse lineup and music of all genres coming from every corner of the city at nearly all hours of the day, Iceland Airwaves truly is a music lovers paradise.

Right now I’m sitting in line with about 500 (or more) other music lovers at the beautiful Harpa concert hall, which in itself is a sight to behold (see image above). It’s roughly 9 a.m. here and we’re all waiting for tickets to see Kraftwerk, who are playing a space in Harpa that seats roughly 1,000 people. You see, for Airwaves the headlining show, which is Kraftwerk, is included in the festival admission but it tickets are made available on a first come, first serve basis during a specific day of the festival. Kraftwerk doesn’t perform until Sunday night but tickets are being given out at noon today and I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be lucky enough to snag a pair.

I’ll write a whole lot more about my experience in Iceland and all of the glorious music I’ve encountered  later, but for now, while I have the time, let me give you a thumbnail sketch of some of my experience during the second day of Airwaves. I went from watching an Icelandic folk duo whose name I forget to checking out a killer Icelandic punk band called Muck to spending two hours in a concert hall having my mind blown by the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra’s amazing reworking of Vivialdi’s Four Seasons and later during the evening I watched Olafur Arnalds perform with the ISO.

Well, my music festival and vacation brain is turning to mud right now so I think I’ll stop writing. But trust me there will be words, lots and lots of words, covering all things Iceland and Iceland Airwaves soon. For now, I highly recommend checking out these two sites if you can’t wait to get your Icelandic music fix from me: Icelandic Music Export and the Grapevine’s Iceland Airwaves microsite



Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 14 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, and others and was the founder and editor of defunct music site Ear Candy.