Back in November 2018, KEXP took our annual trip to Reykjavik for the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. Over the span of four days, we broadcasted live from the renowned KEX Hostel, streaming live video of performances from Icelandic artists and other acts from the festival lineup. We’ll be rolling out these videos over the weeks to follow. Today’s feature is of Norwegian-based artist Aurora. Writer Dusty Henry reported:
The room was insanely packed as Aurora took the stage. Even the legendary Björk was in attendance, solidifying that, yes, this artist is a big fucking deal (yeah, I freaked out a little bit too). By no surprise, Aurora lived up to the hype. She was magnetic on stage, a true pop star without losing the eccentricity of an artist working outside mainstream parameters. Her voice would rise and fall at insane variables, never missing a note in between her gigantic vocal leaps. Her band backed her up with some truly mind-boggling harmonies. They're the type of band that can translate their set to arenas, so seeing them in an intimate space like this was rare and special.
"I am in pain," Aurora proclaimed in the middle of the set. Then paused. It turned out she had some sort of wine holder wrapped around her arm that was causing her irritation. She peeled it off and held it up to the crowd in a triumphant release from her torment. It was a bewildering and enchanting moment, which basically sums up Aurora's music and live performance. She mesmerized the crowd with pop hooks and avant-garde arrangements. It was hard to even move around the room as excited fans swarmed the stage. The intersection of experimental art and pop perfection seems to be a theme at Iceland Airwaves and Aurora embodied the ideal intersection of both ideas.
With her band providing a steady and immaculate foundation, Aurora commanded the stage with otherworldly poise. She'd jump and twist, lost in her own world as if there wasn't an evergrowing mass of people cheering and dancing in front of her. At one point I found a woman in the hall of Kex dancing with a baton, compelled to express herself in movement. That's what Aurora's music feels like to me. An instinct of the spirit to let out these pent-up emotions that we don't always understand. That it always turned out to be catchy pop songs is just another plus.
Recorded November 8, 2018.
All Is Soft Inside
Hosts: Kevin Cole & Cheryl Waters
Audio Engineers: Matt Ogaz, Kevin Suggs, Eyvindur Þorsteinsson & Paul Inge Vikingstad
Cameras: Jim Beckmann, Alaia D'Alessandro, Scott Holpainen & Matt Ogaz
Director: Justin Wilmore
Editor: Jim Beckmann