Iceland Airwaves (Nov 3-5, 2017) – Review

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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I’ve worn plenty of wristbands in my day, but this one I wear with MOST PRIDE. Having been accepted to my second Iceland Airwaves Music Festival as a media pass holder is an opportunity that I do NOT take lightly, and I tried my best to capture the highlights of this magical, musical mystery tour.  Not only does this “land of Ice” know know to shatter glass ceilings and defy the odds of artistic potential and possibility, but it does so in a way that is warm (“land of fire”) and welcoming, and so in the least bit pretentious. The sky is definitely the limit for this innovative, ingenious, impressive Island. The music, people, and scenery is uncharacteristic of anywhere else.  ❤ 

Here are some of the bands that left a lasting impression in my mind and made me question the boundaries of human creativity (click on names or links below to see the full reviews): Hatari, Hogni, Hormonar, Kiriyama Family, We Made God, Omotrack, Rythmatik, Captain Syrup, Arstidir, Between Mountains, Axel Flovent, Mani Orrason, One Week Wonder, GDJYB (non-Icelandic), and Mammut (a personal favorite).  Since my review for Mammut was taking a very long to write (I often find it most difficult to write about bands that move me the most), I decided to write a combined review on their 2017 & 2018 Airwaves shows. Other Icelandic bands I have written about in the past are Asgeir, VAR, Vok, Kaleo, For a Minor Reflection, Sin Fang, Agent Fresco, Lay Low, Rokvva, Samaris, etc. See my reviews on Asgeir and Low Roar. See videos below from Airwaves 2017 when Mammut performed ‘Kinder Versions,’ ‘Pray for Air in the Water,’ ‘The Moon Will Never Turn on Me,’ ‘Walls,’ and ‘What’s Your Secret(these absolutely SLAY):

 

Hatari: “We are the screamer, We are the echo, and We are the chambers” – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 5, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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HATARI was BY FAR my favorite, unexpected discovery of Iceland Airwaves 2017. Their name, which translates to “hater” in Icelandic, suits the venomous vibe of their “experimental bondage  dark ambient darkwave goth punk synth” (check out their Bandcamp). Formed back in 2015, this transfixing trio — Klemens Hannigan (vocals), Matthías Tryggvi Haraldson (vocals), and Einar Stéfansson (drums, also the drummer for the amazing band Vok!)  — have already earned themselves Reykjavik’s Grapvine‘s “Best Live Band” pick of 2016 and 2017 (check out their comical interview).  Their BDSM garb and bizarre masks (worn mainly by Einar) perfectly compliment the cult-like atmosphere that they create with their dark, enigmatic electronic-punk and their eccentric, bizarre behavior (crawling on the bar, swinging around poles, and screaming like the devil). What’s most compelling about Hatari is their discerning dichotomies: devilish, primal screams delivered with a stolid, poker face… disturbing, suicide lyrics shouted to happy techno beats… fearful, yet amused. They exude a mystery and allure that is truly magnetic, and I had such a hard time pulling myself away. Mad props to Hatari for helping the crowd unleash our inner demons and making us “haters” against all the rampant hypocrisy that exists in this world. AND, I later learned that Bjork was one of the unexpected crowd members that Matthías locked eyes when he swung down from the pole that show. ONLY IN ICELAND. ❤️ Can’t WAIT to see them again at Airwaves this year!

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Hormonar: “Our songs are like a female orgasm; there’s no one big explosion, but many high points” – Live at Secret Solstice and Iceland Airwaves (June/Nov 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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Photo credit: Ian Young (www.nounpusher.com)

Hórmónar (Whoremoans) definitely roused plenty of hormones at Iceland Airwaves this year, and it is no surprise that their fan base is multiplying rapidly. They were one of my top new discoveries at Secret Solstice 2017, and their liberating (shirts off at the ed), sexually-charged punk rock performance had both men and women in a tizzy. It therefore was no surprise to later find out that these 5 friends (Brynhildur Karlsdóttir-Vocals, Urður Bergsdóttir-Bass/Vocals, Katrín Guðbjartsdóttir-Guitar, Hjalti Torfason-Saxophone, Örn Gauti Jóhannsson-Drums) won the 2016 Icelandic Music Experiment. Brynhildur’s vocals were unpredictable, edgy, and hot, and plenty of men shouted “are you offering?!” in response to her asking the audience, “Are you HORNY?!!” In a previous  interview with the Rekyavik Grapevine, Brynhildur said: “Our songs are like a female orgasm; there’s no one big explosion, but many high points.” Their smoking hot, super-seductive,  “drive-you-wild” energy sparked some serious attention at Iceland Airwaves this year, earning them the “Peoples’ Choice Award” at the Grapevine Music Awards. I am so glad I was able to see them up close without getting burned. 😛 Can’t wait to see my three favorite songs (videos below) from their album ‘Nananana Búbú” once more at Iceland Airwaves 2018. ❤

 

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Omotrack: “Why is life equalized, some people just can’t see… Everyone has blind spots except for me” – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 4, 2018)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

It was so awesome to have run into the talented brother duo (Markús and Birkir Bjarnason) front-men of Omotrack at Songhoy Blues (at Reykjavík art museum) only a few hours after catching their last set of Airwaves at the bookstore on Laugavegi. They’ve got such an infectious indie/pop/electro sound that kinda remind me of a funkier version of two Bombay Bicycle Club and Two Door Cinema Club. It’s pretty rare to see synths and brass (trombone, trumpet, saxophone) battling for the spotlight! The trumpet and sax were nailing their harmony parts! I loved all of the tracks in the set, especially the 4 below that I got on video: Hippo Trip (new), Imaginary Mountains, Old Habits, and Blind Spots. I especially love ‘Blind Spots,’ and assume that the lyrics were inspired by their experience of growing up as two Icelandic toddlers in remote village in Ethiopia called “Omo Rate” (which inspired the band name), witnessing disparities between people of different ethnicity and social class:

“People treated differently, due to their ethnicity.. Who can tell wrong from right, and sit back watch people fight… Why is life equalized, some people just can’t see… Life can’t be overpriced… Everyone has blind spots except for me.”

Not able to speak the local dialect of Daasanach or easily blend in, Markús and Birkir relied on each other for friendship, fun and musical entertainment and started creating music together as early as 5 and 3 years old. Now, in their early twenties, the band has put down some strong roots into the Icelandic music scene and recently placed third in Músiktilraunir, Iceland’s annual “Battle of the Bands” for young and emerging talent who are hoping to take their careers to the next level. “We tried to enter two years ago, but we only had two songs,” says lead singer and guitarist Markús. “We had been a band for maybe ten days. Now we have more music, and we feel more comfortable, so we just thought: let’s try this.” I’m so glad they did. Their bronze finish not only earned them a spot at Iceland Airwaves, but also a supporting slot with the contest’s winners, Between Mountains. Can’t wait to see them again at Airwaves this year!

So lucky to run into them later that night!

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Love Somebody (Playlist: March 13, 2018)

Compiled by Erica Andreozzi

FRESH NEW PLAYLIST (Spotify link and track listing below) inspired by recent shows in January and February (many of of which were part of SF’s NoisePop Festival) –  Josh Jacobson, Typhoon, Mimicking Birds, Emily Afton, Future Feats, Wild Child, Andrew St. James, Wildling, Crooked Colours, Dagmar, Ha Ha Tonka, Belle Game, Geographer, DonCat, Langhorne Slim, The Album Leaf, Vakoum, Field Medic, Waxahatchee, White Knuckles, Banzai Cliff, King Krule, Derek Ted (of Owl Paws), Lucy Rose, Charlie Cunningham, tUnE-yArDs, X-Ambassadors, Tall Heights, Black Pistol Fire, Billy Rafoul, ZZ Ward, The Wedding Presentand new releases from Frenship, Chvrches (including a track featuring Matt Berninger of The National), Jose Gonzalez, and Tallest Man in Earth (along with new tour dates!)

I chose Frenship’s ‘Love Somebody’ as the title track because, despite the song being so damn catchy (I couldn’t listen just once), I really liked the overarching message: “Get out and LOVE SOMEBODY, and GET LOST on the way.” You never know what hard times someone may be going through or how much they could use a simple smile or “Hello” from a stranger. Get out of your own head and look up at the beauty in your surroundings, savor all the amazing people around you and the lil’ miracles that might sweep you off your feet. I’ve recently encounter many young lives being snatched up way too early (including the super-talented, massively-loved LA-music photographer, Emery Becker who met last year at SXSW), and it absolutely crushes me. No matter what your circumstances and what miserable mood you may be in, strive to be kind. Remember that everyone’s days are numbered and that only WE have the power to make sure those numbers count – every hour, every min, ever second. The fleetingness of life will always remain one of our greatest mysteries, and we should never take anything for granted. Hug harder, smile wider, lend more hands. You never know what impact the tiniest act of kindness may have, or whose lives they may be saving. I hope this playlist will encourage you to open your heart to “love somebody” and to “make tiny changes to earth” (now quoting Frightened Rabbit). And as my friend Paige Parsons (met seeing The Twilight Sad (Official)) says so beautifully, music is the best medium to do so because “music cuts through out cynicism and breaks down the barriers that we erect between ourselves and the rest of the world.” Check out her talk on this:

Help me amplify this message by sharing my playlist with friends and posting about it on social media. AND, if you are an artist featured on this playlist, reposting this playlist will increase the odds of Google not filtering this out on the web and improving your visibility (from what I’ve been told by SEO experts), so please care to share! 😀

(In order to access the playlist, you have to press the 3 vertical dots in the upper right hand corner and select download. You can then cancel the download immediately and still have access to the playlist. If you are still having uses, let me know and I can send you a link to download the tracks!

  1. Wake-  Typhoon
  2. Same Mistakes- FUTURE FEATS
  3. LOVE Somebody-  Frenship
  4. Get Out-  CHVRCHES
  5. Hummingbird- Wildling
  6. Rorschach- Typhoon
  7. Plymouth- Crooked Colours
  8. In the Morning!- Andrew St James
  9. I Want Nothing- The Belle Game
  10. Try to Be Someone-  DonCat
  11. Conversation- Owl Paws
  12. Lost- Emily Afton
  13. Suck-  The Wedding Present
  14. Gorgeous- X Ambassadors
  15. Home- White Knuckles
  16. Sparks Fly- Waxahatchee
  17. Don’t Ask Why- Black Pistol Fire
  18. Minimum- Charlie Cunningham
  19. Laura- Andrew St James
  20. Flow-  Crooked Colours
  21. backyard sorrow- derek ted
  22. Biscuit Town- King Krule
  23. Remember- Typhoon
  24. Little Lies-  Wildling
  25. Tumbleweed- Dagmar
  26. Expectations- Wild Child
  27. What Do You Want-  Dagmar
  28. Sorry Bout Tomorrow!- Andrew St James
  29. Foolish- Geographer
  30. Millennial Malaise-  Andrew St James
  31. Severing the Knot- Emily Afton
  32. Come Back To You- Crooked Colours
  33. The Way We Move
  34. Bloodlines-  Mimicking Birds
  35. Anyone Can Make A Mistake-  The Wedding Present
  36. Too Young To Die- Banzai Cliff
  37. Silver- Waxahatchee
  38. Bully- Black Pistol Fire
  39. poison poetry- derek ted
  40. Silver Screen- DonCat
  41. Foolish- Geographer
  42. Bully- Black Pistol Fire
  43. Koyo- Josh Jacobson
  44. Coast to Coast- tUnE-yArDs
  45. Changes- Langhorne Slim
  46. My Enemy (feat. Matt Berninger)-  CHVRCHES
  47. Think it Over- Wild Child
  48. An Opening- Charlie Cunningham
  49. Hipster Shakes- Black Pistol Fire
  50. Tethered- Josh Jacobson
  51. I Love to Dance- Langhorn Slim
  52. Danielle-  Banzai Cliff
  53. I Hope You Get It- Crooked Colours
  54. An Ocean- The Tallest Man on Earth
  55. Back & Forth- Wild Child
  56. Better Off- White Knuckles
  57. What Did Your Last Servant Die Of-  The Wedding Present
  58. Spirit Cold- Tall Heights
  59. Never Been Wrong-  Waxahatchee
  60. Poison Poetry- Derek Ted
  61. Let Me Go Alone- White Knuckles
  62. All With You- Ha Ha Tonka
  63. Owl Hoots- Mimicking Birds
  64. POWERFUL LOVE- Field Medic
  65. Ahead Of Myself-  X Ambassadors
  66. Be Set Free- Langhorn Slim
  67. Race To The Bottom- Ha Ha Tonka
  68. Still In Love- Thirdstory
  69. all i have- derek ted
  70. Driver- Billy Raffoul
  71. Sunlight Daze- Mimicking Birds
  72. Fade- Josh Jacobson
  73. uuu-  Field Medic
  74. With the Ink of a Ghost-  José González
  75. Twenty Two Fourteen- The Album Leaf
  76. Second Chance-  Lucy Rose
  77. ICE- Vákoum
  78. Movie Screen- Dagmar
  79. Blank Pages- The Album Leaf
  80. Ghost- ZZ Ward

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Charlie Cunningham: “What you got to live for, Now you got the whole of the world at your feet, And how much more can you pass yourself round?… Go, take a load off, Letting your wings unfold, And keeping everything down to a minimum” – The Swedish American Hall (March 7, 2018)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Lucy Rose jokingly said, “never bring an opener on tour who is better than you.” She was of course referring to Charlie Cunningham, the super-talented British singer/songwriter who was definitely more of a “show stopper” than “show starter” and who had you stopped in your tracks with HIS stunning tracks. Apart from his exquisite guitar work and super-soothing vocals, his incredibly pensive, poetic, introspective lyrics will seep into your soul and etch some long-lasting “Lines” (coincidentally the title of his debut album). His music reminds me a bit of Nick Mulvey and Jose Gonzalez, which is funny cause apparently Jose Gonzalez is one of the main musicians that Charlie’s record label curator (Magus) works with. Keen hunch! I l also hear a bit of Spanish guitar influence, which makes sense considering that Charlie traveled to Spain to create the music he wanted to play, free from the prerequisite of “having to read music” first. Charlie also learned to play piano before he learned guitar (at age 14), and I hope he brings both with him on his next US tour… which BETTER BE a HEADLINE one. His 45 min opening set at Swedish American Hall was way too short for satiation, and there was a unanimous request from the entire audience for him to keep playing after his last song, ‘Minimum‘ (video below), my FAVORITE (aside from ‘An Opening‘) and one that really hits home:

“How do I walk this earth?
So much work at first, it goes
How should I walk this earth?
So much worse the further, the further you go
Go, take off a load
Letting your wings unfold
And keeping everything down to a minimum
Everything a bit though
Tell’em what you know but all that you know, though
The truth be told you need it more than you thought
But you’re managing, that’s how you evened out, out
Keep on walking that line, the fine line
Between a wrong and a right
You get yours, I’m gonna get mine
Is that what you signed for?
They’re feeding you lines
To keep you on their side
It works every time
What you got to live for
Now you got the whole of the world at your feet
And how much more can you pass yourself round?
What you got to live for now
You got the whole of the world at your feet
But you’re still shaking?
You need to make up some ground
Go, take off a load
Letting your wings unfold
And keeping everything down to a minimum
Everything a bit though
Tell’em what you know but all that you know, though
The truth be told you need it more than you thought
But you’re managing, that’s how you evened out, out”  ❤

 

Mad props to Lucy for bringing him on tour with her! It was also nice that she invited him up on stage to help sing a few of her songs. I was so bummed when I missed seeing him open for Low Roar at The Chapel last year cause of being away for a work trip. This was certainly a super sweet an unexpected treat!<3 🙂

 

 

 

Black Pistol Fire: “Now you pick apart my love, When a push comes to shove, Say you had about enough, But you still call my bluff” – Ace of Spades in Sacramento (March 6, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

 

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Meeting Kevin McKeown, the WILD FRONTMAN of Black Pistol Fire!

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“Why settle for a spark when you can have the whole damn fire”… BLACK PISTOL FIRE. Ain’t that the truth! There is no reason set settle for a mediocre “rock band” band you can have the HIGH-OCTANE rock duo that I like to call a “younger version of The Black Keys but with more energy, power, and FIRE.” Both Kevin McKeown (Guitar, vocals) and Eric Owen (Drums) are SERIOUS SPITFIRES that will have your ENTIRE BODY AFLAME within seconds of them hitting the stage. I nearly spontaneously combusted when getting to see him perform ‘Speak of the Devil‘ (my favorite track which I got a full video of) from the photo pit and watching him SHRED GUITAR so hard you thought he might puncture skin. Eric (shirtless, hands wrapped), was equally as intense, pounding on his drums as if he is beating away demons. My heart was racing the entire set, especially when Kevin started karate-kicking his legs up in the air and jumping off anything that didn’t move (although I’m sure that is subject to change). He would also stomp in place mid-shred as if marking his territory like in flamenco, with his feet moving so fast you can hardly catch them!. Kevin also blazed a trail through the crowd as he dove face first to crowd surf while STILL SHREDDING guitar. I’m not sure why the name of their album (released May 2016) is ‘Don’t Wake The Riot,’ cause they certainly wake every riot that I have in me, especially with songs like ‘Bully’ (“I like it when you play too rough…”) and I cannot WAIT to see FEEL THIS FIRE again, hopefully next week at SXSW while sporting my badass Black Pistol Fire t-shirt (pic above). 🙂 WARING: You better see them before they blow up and only play huge venues. They have already been clocking it at #1 on the Canada Rock Billboard Chart for the past week!