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Iceland Airwaves: Five bands you must see

12 October 2011, 10:12 | Written by The Line of Best Fit

Iceland Airwaves is one of the highlights of the Scandinavian music calender and is fast becoming established as one of the best festivals in the world. For five days each October, Reykjavík is overrun with the cream of Icelandic talent and some of the most acclaimed international bands.

This year’s proceedings see three grand dames of music – Bjork, Sinead O’Connor and Yoko Ono – waltz into town and take their place at the head of a truly stunning line up. While we’re buzzed about the likes of Beach House, Active Child, Caged Animals and Niki & the Dove, there’s a wealth of homegrown music dominating the festival.

We’ve picked out five amazing Icelandic bands we’ll be checking out. Over the next few days we’ll be bringing you exclusive content live from the festival too.

Snorri Helgason

Honey and sawdust voiced singer-songwriter from Reykjavík. Snorri’s equal parts Paul Simon and Conor Oberst, strung up by the blues. After his former band Sprengjuhöllin went on hiatus, Snorri ran with his love of folk and Americana for 2009′s solo record I’m Gonna Put My Name On Your Door.

When and where?
Wednesday night/Thursday morning 00:10, Harpa Kaladaloon
Thursday night/Friday morning 00:10, Glaumbar
Saturday 15:00, Reykjavík Downtown Hostel

He’s also in London for two shows at St Pancras Old Church on 24 and 25 November.

Hear more at Snorri’s soundcloud.


Quirky orchestral twelve-piece folk-pop ensemble. Think Beirut but with bigger balls and more quirks. We actually caught them by chance last night and they were just incredible. Music to fall in love and get your heart broken to.

When and where?
Friday 15:00, Reykjavík Backpackers
Friday night/Saturday morning 01:20, Iðnó
Saturday 17:00, Reykjavík Downtown Hostel

Hear more at the Útidúr soundcloud.


Áslaug, Jófríður and Þórður are a bunch of students from Reykjavík who trade in dramatic, downtempo electronica, swathed in the lulling tones of clarinets and a distinct vocal. It’s an interesting and compelling take on the more left-field European dance movements of the last decade and unlike much else you’ll hear coming out of Iceland right now.

When and where?
Wednesday 18:30, KEX
Wednesday 19:30 Kaffistofan
Friday 20:00, NASA
Saturday 22:00, Faktorý Ground floor
Saturday 16:00, Reykjavík Downtown Hostel

Hear more at the Samaris soundcloud.

Just Another Snake Cult

Thor Bogason mixes Brian Wilson with Ariel Pink and comes up with something truly compelling and original. Just Another Snake Cult’s sound pulls off that rare and peculiar trick of balancing the right influences with just enough originality to blow minds and capture hearts. We like this a lot.

When and where?
Wednesday 17:00, KEX
Wednesday 19:30, Barbara
Thursday 22:00, Reykjavík Backpackers
Friday 16:30, Kaffistofan
Friday night/Saturday morning 01:10, Cafe Amsterdam

Hear more at Just Another Snake Cult’s bandcamp.

Retro Stefson

We have to be honest, the first time we heard Retro Stefson live, it didn’t quite make sense. They looked like they’d been put together by some weird Scandinavian battle of the bands-type committee. They played such a radical mix of musical style (and all at the same time) that it kinda baffled us.

The second time was when they played our sister site Ja Ja Ja’s monthly London clubnight and the difference was more than noticeable. Buoyed on by an inhibition free Scandi-crowd, the band cut loose with a set that was probably the most fun we’ve had this decade.

Anyone that can get a crowd doing synchronised dance moves is alright with us. Catch them somewhere hot, sweaty and drunk if you can.

When and where?
Wednesday 20:30, KEX
Thursday 22:00, Reykjavík Art Museum
Friday 18:00, Kormákur og skjöldur
Sunday 22:00, NASA

Hear more at Retro Stefson’s bandcamp.

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