The festival – which takes place at a selection of venues across the capital city – is now in its 20th year, and regularly welcomes international artists as well as homegrown talent.
In the achingly-cool Reykjavik Art Museum, Georgia opened proceedings on the first full night of music. Having just played a UK tour – and a killer night at London’s Scala – she brought the same energy to her early-evening slot.
Speaking to the crowd, she said that she had long-wanted to return to the festival, having played as a session drummer for Kwes several years ago, and added that this packed-out show “meant so much to me”. Airing cuts from her upcoming second album ‘Seeking Thrills’, the multi-instrumentalist paired live drumming, keys, samples and more with powerful, energetic vocals in the 45-minute set.
‘About Work The Dancefloor’ – her electro-pop smasher heard at festivals all summer along – as well as unreleased songs like ‘Ray Guns’ and a cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’, provided a joyous finale for the energetic crowd.
Later in the evening, headliner Mac DeMarco played a brisk hour-long set at the Art Museum. Returning for the first time to the Icelandic capital in “6 years or so,” the indie hero had a wealth of several new songs to play for the crowd. Despite opening with technical difficulties, his band kept the crowd entertained by leading sing-a-long versions of Blink 182’s ‘All The Small Things’ before sound was restored.
Mixing songs from ‘Salad Days’, ‘This Old Dog’ and 2019 album ‘Here Comes The Cowboy’, the mellow daze of new songs like ‘Nobody’ and ‘Finally Alone’ worked perfectly with 2017 song ‘On A Level’ and even more upbeat songs like ‘Freaking Out The Neighbourhood’ and ‘Cooking Up Something Good’.
Over at Gamla Bíó, Shame played their first ever show in Iceland with an intimate midnight set. With work underway on their second album, the London punks continued to air new material on their current tour. Opening with the powerful ‘Another’ and ‘Nigel Hitter’, the group mixed new material with hits from their stellar debut album ‘Songs Of Praise’, released in 2018.
The arms-aloft anthem ‘One Rizla’ provided ample opportunity for the energetic crowd to push back an already swelling put down the front, with frontman Charlie Steen joining the fans with a spot of crowd-surfing mid-set. Chaos reigns at their sets, of course. Bassist Josh Finerty had to turn to the gaffa tape when his strap broke mid-front flip half way through the set, and with a rushed finale of ‘Friction’, it was fitting ending for a band who inspire such unbridled and unstoppable joy.
Stay tuned to NME.com for more coverage from Iceland Airwaves 2019