Words by James Canham & Tim Boddy

Pictures by Nick Miners

Jetting off halfway around the world to a music festival is a pretty great experience in its own right, and twinning that with the beauty of Iceland meant that this would be a pretty spectacular trip. After collecting our passes and taking in a bit of culture and pizza, we headed off to NASA to watch the Record Records takeover.

Just a quick word about the venue – NASA is a bit of an enigma. The outside is a bright green townhouse looking structure placed in the middle of a square and looks like the abode of a well off elderly couple. Inside is an intense but friendly club and music venue that would be amazing back in England.

Orphic Oxtra

Orphic Oxtra are the sort of band you wish you could be in, the sort of depressingly talented band that make you think you’ve wasted your youth. Despite the obvious loathing that comes about with knowing most of the band are probably not even 20 yet but are playing perfectly, they really hit home with the rapidly growing crowd and even despite their massive size they were phenomenally tight and it all combined perfectly.

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Lockerbie

Second band on in Record Records’ takeover of NASA were Lockerbie, a string quartet and brass section accompanying the sainted tryptich of bass guitar and drums. Playing to a full venue, they came from the school of sweeping and swooping guitar work, which seems to be something of a trend in Iceland. At times they played a form of epic guitar lead rock with harping vocals and at other points didn’t sound too dissimilar to The Dodos playing with a handsome orchestral backing. An interesting and eclectic mix that needs to be heard.

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At this point we stepped out for a quick breath of fresh air in a bar nearby, before returning to NASA. The first noticeable thing was the monumental queue, something that would become a recurring theme. Stretched round the corner – but fairly peaceful it must be said – it didn’t look like many, if any, were getting in which was a real shame.

Mammút

With the queue to get in now visibly stretching round the corner, Mammút took to the stage donned in faux tribal facepaint and delivered a solid set. Sounding somewhere between Galaxie 500 and Kate Bust (yeah, in that well trodden, sanctified ground...) the closest comparison would be Warpaint lead by Niki & The Dove and moved up a notch. It drifted and waved at times, but it was a great set from them, and the first of several at this years’ Airwaves.

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Sykur

Having never heard of Sykur, I kind of presumed they’d come out and play something fairly similar to the chilled stylistic leanings of the previous few bands. I was wrong. Very wrong. If you can imagine the most zany but passionate Eurovision artist possible and then turn the dial back 10 years, you end up with Sykur whose 90s electro pop stylings – complete with vocoded rapping – I could have easily believed had been ripped straight from Now 20. Perhaps I’m being a spot unfair – they made some reasonable pop sounds up there – but for the most part it was plain bizarre and not in the zany and interesting way I’d have liked. Having said that, I seemed to be in the minority because the passion and excitement held by the band transferred well to the crowd who were dancing and loving it.

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