Keflavík is the birthplace of the Icelandic rock-scene with bands like Hljómar sprouting up there in the late ‘60s. Unfortunately, the Keflavík Music Festival held June 5–9 was a disastrous event plagued by disorganisation that resulted in a lot of cancellations by big artists, domestic and international. Local Viking-metal band Skálmöld reported that they played for an empty tent with no lighting. Other bands reported at times that there was no security present, let alone staff to man the bars. A lot of the bands had apparently been promised advanced payment that did not arrive and were unable to reach the organisers who seemed to go into hiding mode as soon as shit hit the fan.
We recommend people give Keflavík another chance though, as we expect great things from the first Icelandic edition of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival on June 28–29. It is being held at the former US naval base and the main venue is an old airplane hangar and the other is “The Officer’s Club,” a beautiful old ballroom. Exceptional foreign bands such as Nick Cave, The Fall and Thee Oh Sees are coming over and the cream of the Icelandic crop will also be performing, including bands like múm, Ham, Apparat Organ Quartet and Dead Skeletons, which don’t play live shows very often.
In other concert news we recently attended a couple of excellent ones. Sing Fan’s release concert at I›nó on June 12 was a prime example of why he is one of our most successful musical exports at the moment. Sindri and his minimal backing band recreated the beautiful and expertly produced songs of his ‘Flowers’ album with grace and clarity. After the encore he performed two numbers alone on the piano, proving that his songs are strong enough even without the outstanding arrangements.
We also saw one of Reykjavík’s newest bands, Grísalappalísa, for the first time in Vitagar›ur outside of the Kex Hostel on the 16th. Their grooves leaned heavily on punk funk new wave mixed with motorik krautrock and their performance was tighter than a pair of wet skinny jeans. The two vocalists do not sing as much as perform spoken word poetry, full of abstract and hilariously absurd lyrics that seem quite indebted to the musician turned city councillor Einar Örn Benediksson (of Sugarcubes and Ghostigital fame). Their full-length album is dropping this month and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
And we can’t close the column without talking about the new Sigur Rós album, ‘Kveikur,’ which came out on June 17, Iceland’s National Day. We think it’s better than their last one, ‘Valtari,’ which sounded a bit too much like a whale watching soundtrack for our taste. Gone is the meandering ambience, which has been replaced by sharp song writing and edge with a lot of rock out moments. The song “Rafstraumur” really has our hearts pumping.