We all know Sigur Rós and Bjork. Later this month, the Kennedy Center and Iceland Airwaves give you the chance to hear what else Iceland’s music scene has to offer, in the form of FM Belfast, Retro Stefson, and Sóley.
If you’re anything like me, you wanted to jump a plane to Iceland the minute you saw an old friend post jealousy-inducing vacation pictures of snowy mountains, incredible waterfalls, and natural hot springs. You probably also wanted to head over the minute you first heard about Iceland Airwaves, the long-running festival for new music that inevitably ends up turning out some of the best bands you know now.
Consider yourself lucky; your wallet is catching a break this year. Instead, head to the Kennedy Center on Sunday, February 24 for a special extended Millennium Stage showcase presented by Iceland Airwaves and featuring three of Iceland’s up-and-coming musical acts: electro-pop act FM Belfast; alternative group Retro Stefson; and the quiet, beautiful songstress Sóley.
And if you’ve ever been to a Millennium Stage show, you know the best part already: you get all this free. Much better than a flight to Iceland.
FM Belfast usually has four members – but there’s no telling how many percussionists and vocalists might show up to a live show. And their ’80s-influenced electro-pop tunes are unapologetically and lovingly catchy. Just beware. You’ll probably find yourself singing along to songs like “Underwear” (refrain: “We are running down the street in our underwear”) off of their 2008 debut How to Make Friends.
At first listen, I never would have predicted that Retro Stefson emerged from Iceland. Upbeat pop hooks and Afro-beat elements infuse the band’s sound, and the seven members ensure each tune is robust and ready for you to dance along. They claimed two number one singles in Iceland in 2012; I’m waiting to see what they come up with next.
Rounding out the showcase is Soley Stefánsdóttir. You might know her from her role in Icelandic bands Seabear or Sin Fang. This time, though, the multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter is out on her own. Her website describes her music thus: “A beat is laid out, hesitantly moving along at first, then careering, taking off; soon sepia-toned clouds of piano gather overhead, shimmering, turning darker and richer, and then Sóley raises her voice…” This intriguing, sweet prose only nearly matches that of her music.
Together, these three acts provide a peak inside what’s to come at Iceland Airwaves later this year, and is a unique chance to experience the emerging music scene in Iceland, right here at home. Just be sure to bring your dancing shoes.
Sunday, February 24 | 6pm | Free