Festivals and their hometowns don't always mesh, but when they do—like at the latest Iceland Airwaves—it's a sight to behold. Now a five-day festival, it sets up shop in Reykjavik each October and imposes a friendly takeover of the capital. The events and locations seamlessly intertwine, with every venue in town holding performances and financial support coming from Iceland's national airline (Icelandair) as well as their broadcasting service (Ríkísútvarpíð RU).
The eleventh installment came a precarious time, of course, just a year after Iceland felt the most crippling collapse in economic history. But while mildly scaled-down and with less international acts, Airwaves still sold out long before the first chords were played. And the smoothly-run performances—all within walking distance—were rounded out with other sponsored events, like Saturday afternoon when buses hauled festival-goers to the warm, curative waters of the Blue Lagoon where Icelandic DJs and free-flowing beer made for an otherworldly party scene.
Though lacking many big-name acts, this year's Airwaves stuck to its great strength by providing a venue to discover lesser-known, homegrown talent whose notoriety might suffer from geographical remoteness. So with notable exceptions (like Crystal Antlers, Micachu & the Shapes, and the Drums) most of the musicians hailed from Reykjavik.
Check out some favorites after the jump