Culture
Music
Straumur: Life Secretive

Straumur: Life Secretive

Photos by
Timothée Lambrecq

Published June 30, 2016

A comprehensive overview of the 2016 Secret Solstice experience.

Thursday

The Good

Flatbush Zombies

Flatbush Zombies incited a minor riot on the Valhalla Stage. The Brooklyn rap trio tore up the stage with an amazing performance, most of it shirtless. Their music is under the obvious influence of horrorcore groups like Gravediggaz and copious amounts of cannabis. Middle fingers and joints were up in the air everywhere in the audience and at one point one of the rappers ran into the crowd and started a mosh pit.

27824646426_2098541ee7_o

Gísli Pálmi

Gísli Pálmi is a phenomenon. I think he has similarities with both Riff Raff and Die Antwoord, in that his thang is equal parts music and performance art. I don’t know where to put his music on the irony-sincerity scale or if I should not believe the hype, denounce it or just tag along with it. But this night he brought his A-game and owned the stage and every person in a 200-metres radius. The intoxicated youth went berserk over him and a disproportionately high percentage of the crowd seemed to know the lyrics to every song.

GusGus

GusGus is an Icelandic dance music institution, and I mean that in the best possible sense of the word. I don’t like to use the cliche “well-oiled machine,” but that’s what the Gus-Gus live show is, except with a soul inside. Daníel Ágúst, dressed in all red, holds a long note like no other Icelandic singer and he manipulates his own voice live with a reverb/echo gadget. And you should never forget the brain of the whole operation, Biggi Veira, standing in the back tweaking the sounds, pushing all the right buttons.

The Bad

27581189630_ed969a4bd5_o

The weather

After the biggest heat wave Reykjavík has seen in years the gods suddenly decided to rain on the Secret Solstice parade; it was gloomy grey, raining and cold.

The sound at Hjaltalín

I love Hjaltalín, especially their latest LP, but good sound quality is absolutely crucial for their live show. That was nowhere to found at the Gimli stage during their show so I promptly left.

And The Middle-Aged Mediocrity

Sister Sledge

I can’t say I wasn’t a bit disappointed at the announcement of the Secret headliner Sister Sledge. While I love many of their songs, their greatness is mainly the product of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, aka Chic, who wrote, performed on and produced all of their classic albums. With them nowhere to be found (to be fair, Edwards is deceased), the sisters’ backing band was a very competent but quite white gang of session players. The sisters still had some dance moves but their voices were obviously past their peak. They also did a lot of medleys, covers and “woop woop”’s that were too middle aged and Las Vegas-y for my taste.

Friday

The Great

Goldie

Not of the drum’n’bass generation or a Goldie enthusiast, I still danced my rectum off at the Goldie show. He had two rappers with him to pump up the crowd and the main man behind the turntables and gadgetry was smirking through his gold teeth the whole time, visibly still enjoying his work after 20-plus years.

Radiohead

Thom Yorke, his lazy eye and the rest of the gang started quietly but slowly gained momentum throughout their amazing two-plus-hour set. Though not a Radiohead fanboy that knows all their album cuts and b-sides, I enjoyed the amazing playing, especially Thom Yorke’s inspired epilepsy dancing and Jonny Greenwood’s pyrotechnica; guitar playing and effortlessly cool demeanour. By “Idioteque,” the last song before the first encore, I had fallen into some sort of a trance and when 10,000 people sang, “For a minute there, I lost myself,” I felt like one piece of a large collective-consciousness puzzle.

27757586842_447a31e0a5_o

Hel

I have no idea what DJ was playing but I was in a techno trance for about three hours. Good times.

The Unbearable

The heat at the Radiohead concert

The “new” Laugardalshöll has the capacity for about 10,000 people but has serious problem with ventilation. It was not so packed, I was quite far up by the front of the stage but the crowd wasn’t shoulder-to-shoulder, there was personal space for everyone. But the heat was almost intolerable, there was an Amazon river of sweat running down my whole body and I almost left at one point, despite the awesomeness of the performance.

27757581432_81a524b874_o

And the Wacky

Jack Magnet

The keyboardist and one of the founding architects of Stuðmenn, one of Iceland’s most enduring pop groups, played an unbelievably weird set at the Valhalla Stage in the afternoon. He was dressed like a bishop, one of his guitar players like an Orthodox Jew and he also had a female dancer in a burka. They played an odd mixture of progged-out fusion jazz and world music that sounded like Weather Report if they came from Japan crossed with a weird variant of afrobeat.

Saturday

The amped-up

M.O.P.

M.O.P. are masters in crowd control. The 90s hip-hop legends ploughed through their catalogue to a crowd that went repeatedly apeshit and the screaming and jumping were paramount. They sure upped the ante.

The national

Áfram!

The Icelandic national team played Hungary at 16:00 and the game was showed on a big screen at the main Valhalla stage. Before it started, Högni of Hjaltalín and GusGus fame performed a beautiful rendition of the Icelandic national anthem, just alone singing and playing the piano. It struck a chord of nationalism that I thought I didn’t have in me. A large crowd gathered to sit and watch the game that we unfortunately did not win, but the experience was communal and beautiful.

27581187550_e3358b1bd2_o

And the lame

The Police

A gang of about eight policemen roamed through Laugardalshöll with a sniffing dog intimidating people. Though you could see some drug use at the festival I didn’t see a single fight or anything but love and brotherhood. That was totally unnecessary, plus a lot of people are afraid of dogs.

Sunday

The Psychedelic

Par-Ðar

Armed with an army of guitar pedals, an oldöschool wooden wind organ and a shades-wearing drummer, Par-Ðar played a mind-expanding mixture of ambient 70s rock that featured both long instrumental stretches and beautiful three-part harmonizing. The young band channelled the high spirits of the LSD 70s with a playful spirit that was unmistakable.  

27581186100_0b8d929035_o

The Diva

Roisin Murphy

The ex-Moloko songstress and disco goddess played one of the best shows of the festival, in many different costumes. She also brought a live band with guitar, drums and synthesizers and even a banjo in one song. She changed outfits at least three times while I was there for about half and hour. Her dance moves and costumes made her own body a living, breathing and moving visual art. She’s like a way classier version of Lady Gaga, or, no, wait a minute, Lady Gaga is a way trashier version of Roisin Murphy.

And the motherfucking BEST IN SHOW

Die Antwoord are not a band. They are an unfuckable trilogy of South African white trash alien ravers who produce sounds and images that affect the no man’s land between your body and soul. They are a visceral experience that pierces your senses and squeezes your muscles. There was a riot going on, but it was focused, primal and pure. It was the very best show of the festival and one of the best I’ve attended in a long time. Part early 90s old-school hardcore, part helium raps, 100% ENERGY. We were all partaking in an ancient tribal ritual worshipping the spirits on stage. The rolling r’s in the “Fok jo Rrrrrrrrules” chant might have caused a rift in the space-time continuum. Wham Bam slam dunk thank you ma’am.

27858807995_da7902029d_o


Culture
Music
The Cold Front: Kælan Mikla Have Grown Up And Blown Up

The Cold Front: Kælan Mikla Have Grown Up And Blown Up

by

Five years ago, Kælan Mikla were playing twenty minute sets of furious poetry-punk in the attic at Dillon. Five months

Culture
Music
Code Of Conduct: Daníel Bjarnason Releases ‘Collider,’ Talks Conducting

Code Of Conduct: Daníel Bjarnason Releases ‘Collider,’ Talks Conducting

by

“It’s a terribly strange job, to be honest,” Daníel Bjarnason finally says, after a long pause. He is staring straight

Culture
Music
Electric Dreams: Hlýnun Jarðar Looks Towards The Future

Electric Dreams: Hlýnun Jarðar Looks Towards The Future

by

Tryggvi Þór Pálsson is a member of Reykjavík’s own very productive and skillful DJ crew Plútó, appearing under DJ moniker

Culture
Music
The Rise Of ROKKY: A New Star Arrives

The Rise Of ROKKY: A New Star Arrives

by

Following the recent release of her debut single “My Lips,” Icelandic singer ROKKY took to the intimate attic stage of

Culture
Music
Back to the Frou Frou-ture: Imogen Heap and Guy Sigsworth Reunite in Reykjavík

Back to the Frou Frou-ture: Imogen Heap and Guy Sigsworth Reunite in Reykjavík

by

In early October, the stars aligned to grace Reykjavík with a performance by the elusive electropop band Frou Frou. Composed

Culture
Music
Track by Track: Bistro Boy – Píanó í þokunni (‘Piano in the Fog’)

Track by Track: Bistro Boy – Píanó í þokunni (‘Piano in the Fog’)

by

Bistro Boy – ‘Píanó í Þokunni’

‘Píanó í þokunni’ (‘Piano in the Fog’) is Bistro Boy’s third LP. The album is

Show Me More!