Icelandic is a strange language. It has 32 letters and many of them hurt to look at if you have a hangover.
I made a lap around the island when I first arrived, but I can’t name a single place I went to. One of the towns rhymed with a venereal disease. The only other town I finally learned how to pronounce, Stórmarkaður, turned out not to be a town at all, but in fact, the Icelandic word for supermarket.
The festival started slowly. It was, after all, only a Wednesday (Miðvikudagur). I got the feeling people were trying to drag themselves out of the working week. It was raining, and people stood in soggy groups wondering if they were doing the right thing. I passed a young father on the phone trying to convince his 6-year-old to babysit the 2-year-old. There’s nothing like music to help you throw off the shackles. You start to pick up what the band’s putting down. You can feel the bass in your belly. Your beer bottle starts humming in your hand, and all of a sudden, life is good. Lockerbie were playing at Nasa. I pushed my way into the crowd and then, when nobody was looking, rubbed my nipple. I’ve never done that on a Wednesday before.
I worry sometimes, going to festivals in foreign countries. Here’s why: When a frontman says something into the microphone and the whole crowd cheers, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement and cheer along. But who knows what he’s saying? He could be yelling “Kill all the Jews!” for all I know, or “Make love to your sister!” and I’m standing there like an idiot, pumping my fist in the air and screaming “Yeah!” To be fair though, the Agent Fresco singer didn’t seem like that sort of guy.
When Of Monsters and Men came onstage it felt like the whole night was coming together. There were more people on stage than I’ve seen on Laugavegur some nights, and I was happy to see them all. How do you get that many people in one place? Especially on a Wednesday? The music rolled and soared and the people of Iceland were thawing out. I tried to express my excitement, but by the time I finally learned how to pronounce ‘Wednesday’ in Icelandic, it was Thursday.
By Robert Skinner
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