From Iceland — City Guide: The Reykjavík Underground

City Guide: The Reykjavík Underground

Published May 30, 2018

City Guide: The Reykjavík Underground

As repeat visitors to Reykjavík often remark, the Laugavegur strip has evolved into an open-topped puffin mall over recent years. So: where the cool kids at?

Reykjavík’s underground music scene is thriving. If you enjoy noisy guitars, shouting, or weird experiments, try R6013 (Ingólfsstræti 20). You can “pay what you want” for their early-doors concerts, and have some free vegan food too. If you’re into more arty experimental music, check out Mengi (Óðinsgata 2), where musicians are encouraged to try out new and crossover material. Iðnó (Vonarstræti 3) has been recently reinvented as a vibrant hub for gigs, art performances, and shows of all kinds. Sofar Sounds: Reykjavík is worth checking out—they put on surprise lineups in cosy local living-rooms, for those who RSVP fast enough. PW

Reykjavík has a bunch of grassroots and artist-run galleries dotted around the downtown area, showing work by emerging artists and experimental collectives. Ekkisens (Bergstaðstræti 25b) is a buzzing basement space located in a disused apartment. Listastofan (Hringbraut 119) opens an exhibition every fortnight, also acting as a studio complex and social hub for a community of creative types. Gallery Port (Laugavegur 23) has a rapid turnover of exhibitions and events, from a krútt-realist embroidery show to pop-up art markets. Harbinger (Freyjugata 1) is a white cube art space with a contemporary programme and a fascinating library of independently released art books in the back. JR

Nerd culture is always bubbling under the surface in Reykjavík; there’s no shortage of nerds, but establishments catering to them tend to be highly centralised. For this reason, Nexus (Nóatún 17) is pretty much your one-stop shop for comics, role-playing games, and all things geek. They even have a regular meetup, called Nexus Noobs, which as the name suggests is a place for people new to this culture to dig into some Warhammer or D&D. So whether you need a Rick & Morty coffee cup, some polyhedron dice, or you just want to browse some graphic novels, Nexus is your safest bet. Search “NexusIceland” or “NexusNoobs” on Facebook for more info. PF

Geisladiskabúð Valda (Laugavegur 64) is an Aladdin’s cave of vinyl, games and merch that’s so old it feels second-hand, even if it isn’t. Lucky Records (Rauðarárstígur 10) has a sprawling range of vinyl; the neat ‘n’ tidy Reykjavík Record Store has a more manicured selection. 12 Tónar (Skólavörðustigur 15) and Smekkleysa (Laugavegur 35) run labels alongside their stores, so you may stumble across sun-bleached 7”s, forgotten USB-stick releases and rímur compilations lurking in their dusty shelves. Finally, the Kólaportið flea market (Tryggvagata 19) is worth a punt, but be warned—you could leave with some weird blue eggs, a VHS tape of The Lost Boys and a duffle coat. JR

Gothy souls of all genders can conjure up their dark apparel at Rokk & Rómantík (Laugavegur 62), a recently opened boutique filling a ghoulish gap in sartorial choices. Their mother store Kjólar & Konfekt (just two blocks up at Laugavegur 92) offers a wide array of delightfully whimsical dresses and accessories for little kids and grown adults, as well as top-line cosmetics and cruelty-free hair dying supplies. For a bold mix of first-hand basics and design pieces alongside wild and creative vintage wear, Gyllti Kötturinn (Austurstræti 8-10) has a two-floor array of ever-changing supplies, as well as their mascot cat Baktus. And for real deal second-hand, you can’t go wrong with the Salvation Army’s Hertex store (Garðastræti 6), with fair prices and fresh deals all the time. RX

Get more Reykjavík tips here.

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