Well, so much for the daily blogs from Iceland Airwaves 2006. I tried. I honestly tried. There's just something about the city of Reykjavik that keeps me wrapped up in a state of perpetual bliss. The idea of pulling yourself away from the action to write a blog seems patently absurd. This year I was at the festival in the employ of The Reykjavik Grapevine, the local English language alt-weekly, which would turn out to be one of the finest groups of people I've ever had the pleasure to work with. I harassed and cajoled editor Bart Cameron into bringing me on to a staff that by pedigree I had no business being a part of. The writers they brought over included Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone, Nick Catucci of New York Magazine, Josh Modell of The Onion AV Club, Deborah Coughlin (who, incidentally, fronts a very cool band in the UK) and Joel Hoard, who looks sexy as hell in a Viking helmet.
The whole situation was what Cameron referred to as "an experiment in journalism". A typical day started with the 6pm meeting where a bit of good natured verbal jousting decided who got to cover which bands. After a quick mean at the office everyone dispersed to the various venues and watched bands until 1am, at which point we had to get back to the office and hammer out copy, which was subject to a 2am deadline. The energy in the upstairs of the loft where the writers congregated was palpable, and other than the clinking of ice cubes in vodka, the only sound for much of the hour was keyboards being abused. Once everyone had their stories submitted, the real action heated up. The group headed out into the special breed of insanity that Reykjavik nightlife. This usually involved a pub called Prikid that despite its massive crowds, was one of the more fun places I've had the pleasure to drink at. The concept of time never really occurred to most of us until the staff politely shuttled us towards the door at 6am. A few hours sleep, a heavy dose of B-complex vitamins, and it was time to do it all over again.
Iceland Airwaves is the most fun festival I've ever been to, bar none, and it seems that just about everyone who goes there tends to agree. It is charming in a way that is much more than the bands that they book to play it. It is a throwback to the way music was before a bunch of vicious orangutans with marketing degrees preempted it. The entire festival is run by a four-person outfit that goes by the name Mr. Destiny. The streets aren't littered with handbills and posters, and the sponsorship isn't crammed down your throat every 25 seconds. Can it last? Probably not. The laws of the modern world demand that anything good must submit to inevitable overexposure. The Paul Revere of said problem was in evidence already....Vice had a day party there this year. For the time being Airwaves seems to be doing just fine, though, and here's hoping they have a nice long run before the bastards move in.
Tomorrow I will post some of the many highlights to the festival.