Grand Rokk, Saturday, Oct. 22. Watching tight, bar-burning bands like Tommygun and Perfect Disorder, I was amazed at how much metal culture and cheeseball stage moves these guys have absorbed, and how enthusiastically they spit it all back, complete with native quirks – namely the vocalist’s near-comic yawps, which I happily misidentified as a Viking thing. Of course, the first four bands were only setting things up for Iceland’s Minutemen. Though I couldn’t make out a word, Æla’s very short songs felt like Dadaist anthems – but between their nuanced arthouse stomp and the singer’s cracked declamation, they were a hoot.
Architecture in Helsinki at NASA, Friday night. Surrounded by a sea of expensive cocktails, weird haircuts, and about a hundred more bodies than NASA could comfortably hold, eight Aussies made joyful noise out of guitars, keyboards, trombones, a trumpet, a tuba and an army of percussion. Warped, gleeful hooks, collectivist mayhem and a horde of fire code violations combined for perhaps “the” highlight – memories-qua-music, at least – of Airwaves ‘05.
Pravda, 5:30 AM Saturday. This club proved just sleaze-tastic as I’d heard: In the ten minutes I spent inside, I paid 1000 Kr. for a beer, was hit on by two orange-skinned women who were convinced I spoke Icelandic, and saw two fistfights. An illuminating contrast to just how dead downtown Reykjavík is on weeknights, and definitive proof that I-town knows how to party, sort of. Long may you run, spray-tanned warriors.
Þórir at Þjóðleikhúskjallarinn, Saturday night. After some swooning Britpop and all kinds of stylized eletronic hoo-hah, this kid – whom I’d blithely interviewed while he was manning a merch table at Hafnarhúsið on Thursday – came onstage at 2 AM, ignoring all the departing hipsters. I wound up a little teary-eyed. It may have been my exhaustion or deadline anxiety, but it’s a fair bet his heartbroken, hopeful confessionals had something to do with it.
Fjölnir Tattoo Parlour, Monday night. On Sunday Night, the Grapevine held a barbecue at their offices for all the staff and visiting journos. I bet a fellow American that if she ate eight hot dogs – *love* those fried onions you guys put on ‘em, by the way – I’d get a tattoo. She did. I did. Six of us – two Americans, a Brit, and three natives – are forever branded “Blaðamaður,” in case you couldn’t already i.d. us. Kudos, Iceland: I’ve got you under my skin.