Words by James Canham and Tim Boddy

Photos by Nick Miners and Tim Boddy

After a day well spent taking pretty photos of water falling down, blowing up and being still it was Friday night already and another round of Airwavesing had begun. Friday and Saturday last longer than the rest of the nights with more of a focus on the party, which suited us down to the ground.

Beginning in the opera house Harpa and finishing in the tiny club Faktory, it was a night of contrasts and great music.

JC: Einar Stray

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Einar Stray is a man of few words but many strings and that combination proved to be pretty stunning during his set in the magnificent Harpa building. Despite only catching the tail half of his set, he proved once again that his music is something of ethereal beauty and unbelievably intense and close to heart. Like many Icelandic acts, he’s a composer not just a musician, and the set up of him and his fairly small band (apart from himself he had a drummer, bassist, cellist and violinist) worked devastatingly, the haunting marriage of his voice over the top of the backup voices proved to make for an unbelievable sound.

JC: Niki & The Dove

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The queue outside NASA for Niki & The Dove, while fairly long for us in the press, was atrocious for those trying to get in with regular passes. The line looked more like a bundle at the front with a few exceptionally patient people actually queuing behind and it was pretty apparent that not many of the throng would be getting in. So it was with a bit of guilt and an ever so slight nagging sense of smugness that we got in in good time to catch most of Niki & The Dove’s set.

As with most gigs in NASA it was packed right to the rafters, but an amazing atmosphere which is what gives the venue its great and unique feel, which was perfect for the Scandinavian songstress. Hurtling through the tracks that have rightly given her the hype she has today, the stand out had to be ‘DJ Ease My Mind’. Her Bush bothering new wave pop paragon was performed with all the subtlety and grace the piece needed and hit with all the power it had the first time you heard it.

Just a quick note: and I think this’ll come up in all the reviews, a few photographers in the pit – not just for this gig – were the antithesis of what they should be. Niki dedicated one of her songs to a recently deceased aunt, which prompted one offender to shove a camera in her face with flash on.

This wasn’t an isolated incident – these rogue photographers wound up at most gigs blocking views by holding their cameras up and blinding both audience and performer with flash guns. To be fair to the organisers, they sent out an updated set of rules the next day which tempered it, but there were still offenders.

JC: Tune Yards

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My notes for Tune Yards’ set consist entirely of the word ‘whoa’ repeated 3 times which sums it up pretty well.

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But I’ve got a feeling you’re looking for more than that. Well, to elaborate from that, Merrill Garbus’ spontaneous musique concrete based beats were something pretty special to behold and you’d be hard pressed to find a front woman with a more powerful voice. Joined by an enthusiastic horn section and an equally as enthusiastic bassist, they proved to be the first act to get people properly dancing.

Finishing on ‘Bizness’, they were one of the few acts over the festival to really get people going and having some real fun. Others came close but Tune-Yards were the act that I saw that got people in that sort of awestruck party mood.

TB: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

An awestruck party mode it was indeed. I'm however keen to continue this run so opt to stay in my favourite place of Nasa to experience Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, whilst the others head off to catch Útidúr

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs @ Iceland Airwaves Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs @ Iceland Airwaves

Oxford based Teeds eases the venue in gently with beautiful-yet-dance-tastic track 'Trouble' (remixed fabulously by fellow Oxford-ite Chad Valley recently); though 'easing' is not the correct word such is the tune's ability to create a throng of bodies' popping shapes in the crowd already - but in comparison to the rest of the monumental set it's the correct choice of words retrospectively.

The hour of music is unrelenting; blending most tracks into each other in the classic build-rise-fall nature of electronic house music, and full of those discombobulating skree squirly treble frequencies; before landing into bass-ridden chasms that can only really be described as "fat". 'Garden' of course is one of the tracks that is well received the most, from the moment the simple sharp drum intro lands on my ears, sharp like whiskey on a chapped lip (simile bought to you be real life experiences of Iceland).

The stage show is magic also, with Teeds strutting around in his usual dino attire, though with a remarkably calm persona and subtle vocals (think Alexis Taylor at his most subtle); allowing the music and lady dancers sporting dino t-shirts to create a crackling atmosphere - the dancers very much reminiscent of Cartle Blanche (RIP DJ Medhi). I mentioned yesterday that YACHT had done the best in terms of a party atmosphere, but Teeds ripped that premature thought apart.

Oh and 'Household Goods'? Wow. In fact going back to The 405 school of taking gig notes as highlighted by James earlier, all I've got for this one is 'Wowowowowowowowow'. Frankly, I stand by that.

JC: Útidúr

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Another large Icelandic band, Útidúr took to the stage and their early morning slot and lashed out a set of interesting Icelandic pop. While they had a few bits going for them – their two vocalists, one male and one female – sounded pretty amazing and they had the technical ability, their sound was muddy and fell rather flat in the audience. I don’t think it’s a fault of the band themselves, but the mix for their set made it all blur into one and left the sound feeling pretty dull. On record, they’re fantastic, but just this time it didn’t quite work.