Clearer Skies Over Reykjavík

Not having to deal with the collapse of the national banking system and clouds of volcanic dust hanging over the island is clearly making life easier for the Iceland Airwaves festival.

The 5,000-capacity festival, which regularly has 200 or so acts playing across 10 venues in the heart of capital city Reykjavík, announced Sept. 6 that it has sold out.

That’s a month longer than it took last year, but turning the event around appears to have meant reducing the amount spent on international acts.

Sinéad O’Connor is the main act on this year’s lineup.

Three years ago, when the festival came close to hitting the wall, the bill included Biffy Clyro, White Lies, Vampire Weekend, CSS, The Young Knives, and Yelle.

That year, the cost of international acts almost tripled as the Icelandic króna went into freefall against foreign currencies. It wasn’t possible to get money from the bank to pay the balances to artists or get cash to fund the day-to-day running of the event because the banks didn’t have any cash.

Some international acts agreed to perform despite not receiving their deposits and waited until arriving in Iceland to collect their money.

The event was taken over in April 2010 by Anna Hildur Hildibrandsdóttir and her staff at Iceland Music Export, but by that time it was under a cloud of a different sort.

Huge clouds of dust caused by the eruption of a volcano called Eyjafjallajokull, one of the many dotted around the tiny north-Atlantic island, threatened to turn northern Europe into a no-fly zone.

As soon as the dust had settled, Hildibrandsdóttir was able to ready the event for 2010.

Other acts on this year’s Iceland Airwaves lineup (Oct. 12-16) include Mugison, James Murphy, Iceage, Natasha Fox, The Dandelion Seeds, and Raised Among Wolves.