Last year, as I had done the year before, I went to Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavík to take photos for The405. I said afterwards that it would probably be the last time I did music photography, as my professional career was taking off, and I wan’t able to afford the endless trips to London to cover gigs for the website, much as I had been enjoying them.
This year, The405 were approached by the festival organisers about forming a media partnership with Iceland Airwaves, and it turns out I’ll be able to go along to this year’s festival again, with another photo pass, so I find myself just a few weeks away from another week of music, beer, hotdogs and lopapeysur, ready to rediscover my love for gig photography.
This year, a few local bands that I still haven’t managed to catch at a live performance are playing, including Múm and Emilíana Torrini, and German legends Kraftwerk will be making an appearance too. On top of the scheduled line-up (see Harpa Silfurberg on Friday for The405’s stage) there is the usual array of endless off-venue gigs, where festival goers are crammed, sardine-like, into bookshops, cafés, hostels and bars (and even bus stops) to catch more intimate performances from the visiting artists. A highlight for me from last year was when Ólöf Arnalds played to an entranced Restaurant Reykjavík, and we spotted none other than Björk in the crowd afterwards. It’s not uncommon to find yourself sitting next to, or passing in the street, any of the performers from the bands playing at the festival, and this feeling of involvement that is unique to Iceland is what makes the festival feel so special for me.
If you’re going this year, look out for me in my lopapeysa and stop me and say hi if you recognise me. I’ll no doubt be with my bros from The405: Oli, Tim and Stephen, most of us carrying our cameras around with us, so we shouldn’t be hard to spot.
And if you’re not going, keep an eye out on The405’s website, the Grapevine’s Airwaves minisite, or my own Facebook page for updates from the festival, photo galleries, interviews, sessions and more may well appear, so you can enjoy it as vicariously as you dare.