After two years off due to the pandemic, Iceland Airwaves is back at venues all over downtown Reykjavik. For their first time back it's a slightly smaller festival than in 2019, with even more of a focus on Icelandic artists, but there was definitely no shortage of good options on opening night. I began at the Reykjavik Art Museum where they threw an opening party that included a nice welcome from the Mayor of Reykjavik, Dagur B. Eggertsson, who talked about attending the first edition of the festival in 1999.

The Art Museum presented the biggest show of the night, featuring a typically whirlwind, hyperactive set from Australia's Amyl & The Sniffers, but the crowd was really there for the Icelandic acts. Chief among them: eight-piece, all-female hip-hop group Daughters of Reykjavik, who put on the most fun set I saw Thursday night. They were brash and funny, and it's surely the only performance I will see this year to feature an impassioned tribute to the women of Iran, and -- during their single "Hot MILF Summer" -- onstage lactating. I will definitely not forget their set.

I bounced around a few different clubs Thursday, night, including Gamla Bíó where I caught Nation of Language, the only NYC artist at Iceland Airwaves, who played a spirited set of Talking Heads / New Order inspired synthpop. They were fun. I also caught Vancouver collective Crack Cloud, who were eight strong -- including a harpist and saxophonist -- and delivered a killer set of widescreen post-punk that ranged from the highly danceable to sweeping and anthemic. Zach Choy led the group from behind his drum kit, which was front and center on stage.

I sadly missed Icelandic artist JFDR at Gamla Bíó while hopping between venues (I caught her in 2019), but did see a couple songs of Laufey's solo piano set at Fríkirkjan, a very old church. She's already toured North America, and the comparisons to Norah Jones and Weyes Blood were apparent as she captivated the full house, which was pin-drop quiet.

Check out a few pictures from Iceland Airwaves Thursday below. Still to come at the festival: Arlo Parks, Metronomy, and Porridge Radio, plus lots of the Icelandic artists I'm most excited to see, including Inspector Spacetime, Arny Margret, Supersport!, Kóboykex, GRÓA, and more. Stay tuned for more.

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