British electronic superstar Jon Hopkins teamed up with Iceland’s most prominent DJ duo Kiasmos to throw a sold-out party at Húrra on New Year’s Eve. Jon Hopkins has been rising to fame amongst the electro-intelligentsia from his beginnings as a keyboardist for Imogen Heap, to a Grammy nomination for his 2018 album ‘Singularity,’ and his work with Brian Eno, Bonobo, and many others along the way. Kiasmos, comprising Icelandic composer Ólafur Árnalds and Faroese producer Janus Rasmussen, have become one of Iceland’s most popular music exports in recent years, selling out their soft-edged techno shows all over the world.
Hot and cold
With credits like these, it’s no wonder that the event sold out more than a month in advance, even in a country where no one is capable of planning past their next meal. Tickets were so sought after that many desperate posts were made in the event page on Facebook pleading for passes . One ticket was even posted for sale for 10.000 ISK on the day of the event (original ticket price was 3.500 ISK).
This may have been one of the hottest events of the year, but the theme was all about the cold. Húrra’s dance floor was redecorated entirely with white, hanging streamers and blue lights in glass cases filled with reflective material across the ceiling. This created the icy, wintry feeling that has been missing from this unusually warm winter, or, in the band’s own words: “Elsa from Frozen’s ecstasy dream!”
Fast and slow
Jon Hopkins was up first. Most of his tracks start slow and build up with great nuance and artistry, but this being a DJ set instead of a concert (and New Year’s Eve, no less), there wasn’t much time for nuance. He came out hard with beats bumpin’ and fists pumpin’ (metaphorically), and the audience was ready. The people scattered around the venue were magnetized toward the front, as more and more flooded into the venue. Unlike a typical weekend at Húrra, the crowd that night were there to dance first and drink second, so there was no time wasted.
By the time Kiasmos took the stage, Húrra was truly at its absolute best. Everything from the look to the sound to the audience was in perfect harmony. Kiasmos oscillated from pounding beats to their more ethereal moments, with the crowd following along, alternately frenzied and blissed out.
Out and in
By the end, nearly every single person was on the dance floor, leaving the bar section of the venue eerily empty. After Húrra received a lot of criticism during Airwaves for overcrowding, which seriously detracted from some of the performances, they might have slightly overcorrected the attendance here. Or, maybe, many ticket holders just overdid it and missed out. Whatever the case, less is more. It made for a respectful crowd of music lovers, dancing with all the space they need in lieu of drunken festival zombies shoving each other.
That is exactly the kind of harbinger we need for Reykjavík this year. For those who were left outside in the actual cold, begging to get in: don’t fret. Kiasmos announced on New Year’s Day that the event will become a series. 2019 might just be your year after all.