The pandemic restrictions certainly shook up the Reykjavík bar scene in 2020, but that doesn’t mean that our favourite drinking institutions didn’t do everything they could to create a safe environment to assuage COVID-19 anxieties. In fact, the past year saw a plethora of new spots opening and old classics keeping the spirit of the city alive. Because let’s be real: Icelanders love to drink. In fact, there is probably nothing Icelanders like doing more than drinking, which could be why this country doesn’t have a space program. But hey—we’ve done pretty well at vaccinations.
Best Place For Live Music
With dim lights, leather sofas, gender-neutral bathrooms and free tampons, Gaukurinn is the preferred hangout for the unorthodox Reykvíkingur, so if you’re looking for like-minded peeps in the alt and queer scene, here you go. The old-school haunt underwent a change in ownership this year, which saw a large renovation of the formerly-grunge locale as well as an ambitious focus on showcasing emerging talent. Now they’ve got concerts almost every night—while being very strict on following all pandemic regulations—with everything from heavy metal fests to quieter indie and bumping techno. They’re really the only bar to regularly have such shows, which we must commend them for and many of our favourite Icelandic acts—from Hatari to Power Paladin—played their early gigs there. “Their karaoke nights are also legendary because people take it so seriously,” one panel member laughed. “It’s not just drunk women singing Britney. People really perform.”
KEX is back! Yes, it’s reopened with a bang, featuring a fantastic roster of shows over the past few months. The stage is small, which creates a rather intimate vibe for such a large space, but they seem to always get whatever band or group is most talked about at the moment. “The vibe in the crowd is always good,” the panel determined. “I’m excited to see how they keep this up. They really have some momentum.”
Post-húsið isn’t a bar—it’s the new venue made by Reykjavík’s favourite DIT collective Post-dreifing. The place defines the term ‘group effort’, with everyone chipping in to make the formerly industrial space one of the most exciting new venues in the city. Every show they do is full of passion and they’re constantly upgrading the place, so trust us, if you want to see the best-and-brightest of the scene, this is where to go. We love u, Post. DIT 4eva.
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