Iceland Airwaves 2012 and my problems with getting older.

When I was a teenager my favorite movie was Trainspotting. In it, Ewan McGregor‘s character Renton, describes how heroin addicts are always chasing that first glorious fix but end up literally down the drain. That scene in the toilet booth still gives me nightmares. I think I‘m there a little bit when it comes to Iceland Airwaves.  My first few Airwaves experiences were SO amazing that nothing will ever live up to it. It‘s not Airwaves fault, it has more to do with that I have to get over the fact that I‘m getting older and that my taste and preferences are changing.  So is Airwaves.

Change isn’t always bad – sometimes it‘s even necessary.  Now, I should probably repeat that about a 1000 times until I get it through my thick festival-conservative head.

So, Airwaves 2012. As I’ve mentioned before, I‘m not a music critic. Once music was my life, now it‘s only one part of it. Also, I’ve read many reviews about the same shows at this year‘s Airwaves where one person experienced the gig of their life while someone else‘s ears hurt.  Reviews are just one person‘s opinion and just because I didn’t like something it doesn’t mean you won‘t. I don‘t know enough about musical theory to tell you whether someone is doing something new and brilliant with their music and instruments. I can only tell you what music makes me feel.

With that in mind I can tell you that I enjoyed every single show I saw at this year‘s Airwaves except one. I‘d say that‘s a pretty good ROI. Was it the musical experience of my life? No. Did I miss Nasa? Yes! Was I bummed about some of the cancellations? Of course. However, I met a bunch of people who were exactly were I was at a few years ago. They had the Airwaves glow about them, where everything is new and fantastic and oh so very possible. They had discovered new music, found new friends, partied until the morning and found some miraculous energy to do it all over again 4 nights in a row. They couldn’t believe the atmosphere in the city, how small and intimate the off-venues were and the hospitality of the Icelandic people. Pure joy are the only words I can find to describe it.

Going back to how Airwaves has changed; in retrospect, now that I’ve had time to process it, the changes have mostly been positive. They have expanded the genres represented, the off-venue shows this year were on steroids and you could have enjoyed music 24/7 without ever buying a ticket and the organization has never been better. Most bands were on time and it wasn’t impossible to get into shows due to horrendous lines like it‘s often been because there was something interesting happening at any give moment in most venues. These changes have given a broader audience a chance to experience something amazing. Yes, you can do what I did a few years ago and jump up and down in front center stage, scream your lungs out and snog the hell out of whoever happens to stand next to you if that‘s your idea of a good time. But you can also do what I did this year and take it easy, not be worried about missing out on the big names and just go with the flow. And that is utterly brilliant and somewhat unique in my experience.

I guess the bottom line is this question: Would I recommend buying a ticket to Iceland Airwaves 2013? Pardon my french but, abso-fucking-lutely!

Tickets for Airwaves 2013 go on sale December 1st. See for more information. 

If you were hoping for concert reviews and more traditional music festival stuff check out the Iceland Airwaves Website and The Grapevine Airwaves Journal.

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