Postcard from Iceland :: Part 4

October 14th 2011

Tank playing at Bar 11, photo by Rainbow Chan

Iceland Airwaves 2011 officially kicked off today. For us (the sum total of the Aussie contingency playing at the festival), it was also the first gig for Tank and Rainbow Chan, hosted at Bar 11.

Organised by Gogoyoko, Tank and Rainbow played their first ever international shows and not only drew a crowd, but got a really warm response. Both artists did a great job on stage, met their new fans and posed for photos afterwards. Sydney's newest international (non)rock stars! 

Sigur Ros' drummer Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson came to check them out and we gave him our Northern Lights competition compilation, featuring all our six finalists. A really solid performance and attendance for FBi's first Icelandic showcase. You can have a gander at Rainbow's performance below:


From there we head to a gig on a much grander scale (although limited to just 1,000 people): Bjork's first Biophilia show in Reykjavik, at Harpa Concert Hall (designed by the amazing artist Ólafur Elíasson).

The thing that sets Biophilia apart from other gigs is the show itself; a truly amazing spectacle. Seven screens with projected visuals, a 20-piece all girl choir, traditional instruments (including harpsichord, celeste and pipe organ) and modern, specially commissioned instruments which I can only describe as feats of engineering.

You may remember the interactive "ReacTable" Bjork brought to Sydney when she played the forecourt of The Sydney Opera House. It was in use again, but this time Bjork had a new trick up her sleeve – the Gravity Harp. Four large pendulums in wooden housing, each swinging independently. As they swung past the midpoint of the machine, each pendulum would have one string which was plucked as it passed a plectrum. The pendulum would then rotate to position another note in the path of the plectrum on it's next pass, playing a melody as it swung back and forth. Hard to explain, but amazing to see.

The other element that I loved was the voice-over introduction to the show (and subsequent songs) by David Attenborough. He announced the Biophilia show as the "intersection of nature, music and technology". He was spot on.

Rainbow with Bjork's set list

Bjork's Biophilia show was a particularly special experience for Rainbow. She's the biggest super-fan I've ever met (although Stuart Buchanan from FBi's New Weird Australia show might try to challenge her for the title). Rainbow handed in her university honors thesis the day before we left for Iceland. The topic? Bjork and her influence on contemporary Icelandic music and culture.

After the show, Rainbow chatted to Andy Cavatorta who designed and built the Gravity Harp and gave him a copy of her demos to pass to Bjork; you never know your luck in the big city (or in this case, the very small ci


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