The electro band from Reykjavik came with a late run to dead-heat with British indie pop act The xx to collect the most shows from this year’s European Talent Exchange Programme.
They secured 11 festival shows each, with FM Belfast attracting interest from such major European festivals as Germany’s Hurricane and Southside, France’s Les Eurockeennes De Belfort and Les Vielles Charrues, Denmark’s Roskilde, Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz and Austria’s Frequency.
Iceland Airwaves, which has 200 or so acts playing across 10 Helsinki venues with capacities ranging from 100 to 900 people, looks to have recovered from its financial troubles of two years ago and sold all 3,000 tickets by the end of August.
Iceland Music Export managing director Anna Hildur Hildibrandsdóttir took over the stewardship of the festival after the collapse of the Icelandic banks had brought the event to its knees in 2008.
In April the tiny north Atlantic island created mayhem for international air travelers when the dust from the eruption of a volcano called Eyjafjallajokull virtually made northern Europe a no-fly zone.
When the banks collapsed, the cost of international acts almost tripled as the Icelandic króna went into freefall against foreign currencies. It wasn’t possible to pay artist deposits or get cash to fund the day-to-day running of the event because the country’s banking system was paralyzed.
Hildibrandsdóttir’s task was to restore the event’s credibility and regain the confidence of mainly London-based agents, who had to chase to get the balance of their artists’ fees. Some had gone as far as contacting event sponsor Icelandair to get the money.
Making ends meet looks to have involved booking more homegrown bands. Previous acts to have played Iceland Airwaves include Kaiser Chiefs, The Flaming Lips, Klaxons and Vampire Weekend, who arguably were better known than any of the acts on the 2010 bill.
With so many U.S. and UK acts beyond her budget, Hildibrandsdóttir has steadied the ship by making the best use of her resources and still managing to sell it out.