We were so not looking forward to Saturday purely for the FOMO-cert of all the clashing bands this evening and on our morning layabout in the local pool we still could not decide. Plenty of time before that to enjoy the city of Reykjavik itself. Our yearly visit to our favourite record shop, 12 Tónar yields the brand new Jóhann Jóhannsson soundtrack to ‘The Theory of Everything’ and Thursday night favourites Stereo Hypnosis’ latest release. We also make it to the beautiful Kex hostel for the peak of off-venue action as Seattle’s KEXP station takes up residency there and puts on four bands a day. Girl Band are impressing even more in this space, buzzing guitar and Adam Falkner’s yelping vocals getting everyone on their feet and gathered close. And it’s only 4pm.
Another tradition in a local restaurant discovered over the eight years we’ve been coming and with some fish in the belly we are about to make out call on the four way split – we choose The Knife’s last ever show over New Zealand’s Yumi Zouma and heartbreakingly, Future Islands on this, our very own future island. In early and up close we catch most of Samaris again, sparky and crisp up close and always a pleasure to catch. We are buoyant by the time Karin Drejer and her jump-suited squad roll out to a fire-safety troublingly packed room following a cheery pre-show workout. The pace from the off is immense as one of the squad leads us in a marching drum solo, the others connect with bespoke instruments, flying guitars and various electronic elements. This pace runs through ‘We Share Our Mother’s Health’ and the theatre of it all is enthralling. Then slowly the members of the band become the dancers, abandoning their instruments and then all of a sudden we’re in karaoke. The Knife’s question of what a gig is cools the experience of seeing music created before you and with the cloak removed it’s just dancers and infrequently Drejer’s live vocals left. You wonder if anyone actually played anything earlier in the night, and as the thrill dissolves and no-one reclaims an instrument we grin through ‘Silent Shout’ but wish we were closer to the door and thus the simplicity and honesty of Future Islands just across the waterfront.
As we finally pour out we have little to no chance of getting through the doorway to catch Hozier who has wedged the Nordurljos hall so tight. From where we stand his pastoral and polite blues is making a lot of people very happy and the big payoff waits in the last song as a multi-national room beams en masse as ‘Take Me To Church’ lights up.
With the strain of the penultimate night’s push showing we are happy to slip comfortably into Caribou. Nothing sort of a love-in it’s the finest balm a Saturday night could deliver. Lights playfully dancing along, our tired legs do their best and slowly we are lifted out of our fatigue fug, the four days of standing escape our mind and who could fail to be lifted by Dan Snaith’s cheery face as he knows we are futile to resist ‘Can’t Do Without You’. Then ’Sun’s pulse caries us through. And now not done-for after all, we get in early to Dolly bar. Cold beers, no band to look at, some digesting time before meeting friendly Germans in the smoking area and dancing with the crew from The Knife who are celebrating the last evening together as this touring band. And as the hours tick away on the last weekend night of Airwaves 2014 we hold on as much as we can and only leave when the steely eye of the doorman is upon us and the sweeping brushes of the barstaff herd us out into the chilly air.
The Knife photographed for Airwaves 2014 by Matthew Eisman.