“Do you have any tea?”
“Sorry we don’t have any tea bags. We only have coffee.”
I really don’t like coffee. I hate its overly bitter taste and I don’t like the smell, especially when I can detect the smug stench of someone who’s downed a double cappuccino from twenty metres away, droning on about how they always “need the stuff” or they can’t function.
But here I am on March 27 at gig in the Kaffi, kökur & rokk & ról! (“Coffee, Cake & Rock & Roll”) concert series, where pretty much the only thing on offer to drink is coffee. I accept my losses with a heavy heart and grab a cup of water and a couple of chocolate chip cookies.
The concert series, which is curated by Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen, chief music writer for the daily newspaper Morgunblaðið, has been making quite the name for itself over the last few months. It is held at the headquarters of SÁÁ, the drug and alcohol treatment centre of Iceland, and its premise is to provide a booze and drug free concert environment for people of all ages to enjoy.
TEENAGERS SMELL SO FUCKING BAD!
While we wait, the venue fills up nicely with a diverse selection of people, from sullen teenage metal kids who are normally too young to go to concerts to parents attending their first gig in ages, dragging their offspring along for the ride. All seems fine until we’re forced to move to the other side of the hall because of the septum melting smell emanating from large groups of teenagers next to us. Maaaaan, it was like smelling the crusty ball sack from a three-week-old badger corpse. No wonder teenagers feel so alienated. Nobody will go near them because they smell so fucking bad!
But enough about nasal destruction, the night begins with the band Gone Postal, who perform brand new material. Whereas their older songs were brilliant in a slam-your-head-against-a-wall-100-times-a-minute kinda way, this set contains some really killer black infused death metal, with greater ambition and more variation in pace and rhythm. In matching black hoodies, looking like they’d just come from a serial mugging spree, there are some proper doom metal moments towards the end of their set that surely need a clanging bell ringing Sabbath-style. Add to this the nodule tearing glory of Toggi’s vocals, and they finish to some sturdy head bobbing and warm polite applause from the crowd.
ENTER THE GREATEST BAND IN THE WORLD
After a break for more water and cookies, it’s time for the headline act, which is “the greatest band in the world,” according to MC Arnar Eggert. It’s been several months since I last saw HAM at Eistnaflug, where the debauched rocking reached ludicrous levels that included much topless female stage diving. But there is none of that nonsense tonight for this is HAM, the kids’ show special.
They sound quite a bit off as they start playing. Both Sigurjón and Flosi’s guitars seem to be lost in a pounding mix of bass and kick drum. Singer Sigurjón also looks absolutely knackered, as if he has been up the night before doing his tax returns. But all of this counts for nought when songs like “Dauð hóra,” “Heimamenn” and “Einskis son” are smashing into your face. The crowd moves closer to the stage and the head-nodding is a lot more vigorous. There’s even some head-banging towards the end from a few people.
With fifteen minutes left, they end their set with an encore of “Trúboðasleikjari” (ask your Icelandic friend what it means) and the classic “Partýbær,” and then that’s it, finished, over, finito. Everyone shuffles outside into the wet, cool night, ears still ringing.
Now I’ve been to many all ages and straight edge style gigs before and I have to say that this was one of the politest, most genteel crowds I’ve seen at a ROCK gig for quite a long time and possibly ever. But I daresay that despite the amiable ambience of the evening’s events, it was a decent change to see these bands play straight laced with no chemical assistance. If I go again, I’m definitely going to bring some teabags.
Where: Edrúhöllin, Efstaleiti 7
When: Tuesdays at 20:00
How Much: 500 ISK