Culture
Music
AN EVENING AT GRANDROKK

AN EVENING AT GRANDROKK

Published July 11, 2001

Grandrokk is one of those places that has what so many pubs promise but few deliver, atmosphere. What is it that gives a place atmosphere? It’s certainly not the stale air, cigarette smoke or stench of alcohol oozing from every pore. That applies to every bar in Reykjavík, and probably the world. It has something to do with decor, but that doesn’t tell the whole story, or any dive with a few amusing placards and posters of 70´s rock stars would have atmosphere.
It’s got something to do with staff. Bartenders are given power seldom entrusted to mere mortals. At a whim they can send you farther up into the heights of drunken bliss, or have you banished into sobriety, and the amount of money in your pockets does not always determine whether you wind up in one group or the other. You are completely at their mercy, and pray they treat you kindly, offering a sympathetic ear and refreshments for a small fee.
But most of all, atmosphere has to do with the clientele. You can have the most intimate decor, and the most benevolent of bar staff, but if the clientele doesn’t add colour, or even stays away altogether, your bar will be nothing but an empty shell.
Grandrokk used to be situated at Klappastígur 30, where Sirkús currently resides. Grapevine spent many a Saturday afternoon there in its youth, downing pints and dreaming of a promising future in publishing. Little has changed but the price of beer. At the time, you could get Jever on tap for 300kr, by far the cheapest in town, and this attraction cut across many a cultural divide. At Grandrokk, you would find teenagers coming to get drunk for the first time and old bohemians getting drunk for the last, and everything in between. On occasion, someone would spontaneously get up to read poetry, the music was turned off and everyone would quiet down and listen. Ah, happy days. But alas, it was not to last.
Grandrokk moved to its present location at Smiðjustígur 6. The number of beers on tap multiplied, but, tragically, so did the price, and a nightly pint of Jever became a thing of the past. Nonetheless, the atmosphere moved to the new place, or, in fact, spread evenly among the two successor bars. The younger cats, the hipsters and the artistic wannabes and willbes remained put at Klapparstígur, whereas the older ones relocated to Smiðjustígur. The most notable of these was the chess club Hrókurinn (The Rook). Almost every table in the bar has a built in chessboard, and you can come in there at any time of day to play, and be sure to find a number of willing opponents. Be careful of playing for beer, though, as most members are pretty proficient, and have often gotten in foreign teams to compete. Among notables who have played The Rook are Kasparov, and Anand. The Rook won the Icelandic cup for chess clubs in 2002, and has just returned from a tour in Greenland.
As Grapevine enters the bar at 5 o clock on a Friday, the evening is just kicking off. First up is a pub quiz. 30 questions are asked, and the winner wins a crate of beer, but the catch is that at least 15 questions must be answered correctly. The regular quiz host is unavailable, and the newcomer is given a hard time of it. It happens to be the 4th of July, so the questions are dedicated to American Lowbrow culture. This does not amuse the regulars, most of whom know more about Icelandic poetry and the sagas than about Oprah or Star Wars. Every question is second guessed and/or shouted down, the host puts up a heroic defence but is in the process of becoming the most reviled man in the room. He asks who was the commander of British Forces in World War I, in one of the questions not dedicated to the theme of the day, and the audience smell blood. He neglects to mention whether this refers to Army, Navy or combined forces, and for a moment it seems as if Iceland might witness its first lynching of the century. As tempers flare he belatedly announces that it was the Army he was asking about, his life is spared and the competition resumes. As it turns out, the result is a tie between two people who both managed 13 points, but no one was a contender for the crate of beer, so the sudden death rule is not invoked (Grapevine manages a measly 9).
The quiz over, there is no pressing need for the use of mental faculties, at least for those not playing chess, and hence the bar is hit hard. The regulars at Grandrokk are considerably more talkative than your average Reykjavík bargoer, and this with only the aid of moderate amounts(as yet) of alcohol. The first man Grapevine finds itself engaged in conversation with to claims to have designed the backdrop for films such as Angels of the Universe and Nói Albínói, and says he wrote the story Ikingut, also made into a film. He lectures Grapevine on JFK and the magic bullets, and about how LBJ and the southern oil barons had him killed. Then, in yet another attempt to expose Grapevine’s ignorance, he pulls out 12 matches and challenges Grapevine to take one away, promising that Grapevine will wind up with the last match, and hence lose the game. Grapevine duly finds itself holding said last match.
Everyone having had their share of merriment, and chairs being requisitioned by chess players, it now finds itself talking to a man who titles himself an artist. He proudly announces that unlike most of his peers, he is a member of the Conservative Party. Attempting to convince Grapevine of the merits of this, he tells us that all this talk of the poor getting poorer is merely relative, it is in fact the rich getting richer, and hence there is no need to worry. Grapevine finds itself quite as dumbfounded by this as by disappearing matches, and decides to concentrate on the drinking. We think it best to end our report here, and let Grapevine go about its business, among the friendly late night drinkers at atmospheric Grandrokk. Vladur



Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Straumur: Best Of Music

by and

Best album: GusGus’s ‘Mexico’ The greats of Icelandic dance music, GusGus, have yet to slip up in their almost two decade long career and they certainly don’t do so on their latest album, ‘Mexico.’ They continue to explore the sonic terrain of their last album, ‘Arabian Horse,’ a sound that is not in any way minimal, but extremely economical. But that would be for nothing if it weren’t for the melodies and singers. Vocalist Daníel Ágúst has particularly outstanding performances in “Crossfade” and “Sustain” and former member Urður Hákonardóttir shines on standout track, “Another Life.” But they also hark back

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Northern Edge Of The Scene

by

If you were to read about Icelandic music in the press, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that all we listen to up here all day is a continuous loop of FM Belfast, Ásgeir, and Sigúr Rós, while employing secret cloning technology to keep our cultural industries stuffed full of post-rock non-entities and ethereal pop ninnies that sport woollen ponchos, face paint, and feather headdresses. Frankly that sort of stuff would send a sane person round the bend. Oh, but reader there are much wilder sounds on this Island if you know where to look! From black metal, to feminist

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Weather Or Not

by

Red sands, yoga, seal-watching, camp games and nightly concerts in a barn—the only thing the organisers of Rauðasandur Festival couldn’t promise was good weather. The festival, held during the first weekend of July at a remote farm in the West Fjords, is ambitious in its design: 500 eager festival-goers and musicians abandon modern comforts for a four-day marathon of concerts, camping, coordinated activities, and revelry in an idyllic location reachable only by a treacherous, winding dirt road. Icelandic weather being unpredictable as it is, however, the festival organisers are used to changing plans by now. After four iterations—the first of

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Track Of Issue: Grísalappalísa’s “Nýlendugata-Pálsbæjarvör-Grótta”

by

This frantic and irreverent song is the band’s very first single off of their new album, ‘Rökrétt Framhald’ (“Logical Progression”). The lyrics focus on a person sneaking out of their home and going on a wild ride through Reykjavík, and in typical Grísalappalísa style, also highlight the banality of life in the city. The chorus in particular drives the point home that nothing is new under the sun, counting up the things the protagonist sees, such as grey skies, empty streets and neon lights, before ending with “et cetera.” The instrumentals further accentuate the contrast between the band’s two singers;

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

ATP Iceland Portrait Series By Matthew Eisman

by

I wanted to try something different and challenging at ATP Iceland 2014 so I decided to shoot a series of backstage band portraits. I set up a portrait studio on-location at Atlantic Studios and shot as many bands as possible. For some artists I had less than a minute to work with. For others, time was flexible and we tried a few different looks. I didn’t get everyone, and there are a couple big names noticeably absent here. But I’m happy with the results and hope you enjoy too! Huge thanks to all the artists that participated, and to Tómas

Show Me More!