From Iceland — Go Native: The Secret Icelandic Acts At The Solstice Festival

Go Native: The Secret Icelandic Acts At The Solstice Festival

Published June 15, 2017

Go Native: The Secret Icelandic Acts At The Solstice Festival

Secret Solstice, the biggest music festival in Iceland, returns this weekend. If you’re dropping in from abroad, you’ll know Foo Fighters and The Prodigy already, but maybe not the local acts who really give the festival its personality. Here are a few must-see local stars to ring on your schedule.


Þórunn Antonia

Thursday – 18:15 – Valhöll

Þórunn Antonia is one of the few music artists around who can seriously rock a jumpsuit. If you’re skeptical, go watch her iconic dance video “Too Late.” Þórunn has been in the Icelandic music scene for ages, but also worked in London and Los Angeles, and her show is the one to go to if you want to smile and dance with your girl pals. Þórunn makes infectious pop earworms you’ll find yourself humming long after she walks off stage, and if you’re STILL skeptical—or not a fan of jumpsuits—she also collaborated with Beck. HJC



Thursday – 19:00 – Valhöll

Why should you see a band that was formed in 1987 and probably hasn’t been relevant for years? Well, because they are probably the best insight you can get into “real” Iceland. A society where nobody writes books, and everyone travels to the Canaries once a year and dreams of owning a Range Rover. SSSól makes generic pop music at its best, and the Icelandic flair is unmistakable. Their biggest song is also called “Ég verð að fá að skjóta þig” (“I have to shoot you”)—a love song about spousal abuse.


The Vintage Caravan

Friday – 17:00 – Valhöll

The Vintage Caravan mix classic rock with psychedelic and stoner influences, ultimately producing a weird energetic bluesy vibe. Imagine taking mushrooms at a Led Zeppelin concert—it’s like that. Their live performance is also incredibly seasoned, probably due to an extensive tours of Europe and South America. This show will kick off their summer touring season, which will see them play at seven international metal festivals. Not a fan of rock or metal? Go anyway. It might, as the band would say, “expand your mind.” HJC


Marteinn aka BNGRBOY

Friday – 17:30 – Fenrir

If you’re one of those 24/7 trap people, BNGRBOY (aka Marteinn) is your guy. The next-next-next-level producer of Icelandic hip-hop, he’s the go-to for experimental-eerie-electronic-melodic you-name-it shit. Still scratching your head? You’ve probably heard him on his collabs with artists like GKR, Tiny, Lord Pusswhip, and Dadykewl, so give him the respect he deserves by showing up at his Solstice performance. Seriously, this is the guy you want to see before he goes international with this shit. Don’t miss it. HJC


Gísli Pálmi

Friday – 18:50 – Gimli (Glacier Mafia)

Sunday – 17:30 – Valhöll (Gísli Pálmi)

If in some Book of Job situation, God said you could only go to ONE performance at Secret Solstice, well, the lord has certainly giveth. Gísli Pálmi, the undisputed (okay, obviously one could argue about this) king of Icelandic rap, is the one not to miss. Every show of his gets crazy, so get ready to see everyone from downtown cool kids to baby-carrying adults scream loudly about Subutex and Tutankhamun. And if God grants you one more show, that should be his other project Glacier Mafia, where he performs weirder unreleased stuff. HJC



Friday – 21:00 – Fernir

Iceland has a very vibrant rap scene and recently many rising stars have been popping up and catching the ears of the more watchful of the public. One of the most exciting is Birnir, an up-and-comer who makes smooth hip-hop. So far he’s only made two songs, which might make the concert… interesting. But both of them are fucking great, so who cares?


Hrnnr & Smjorvi

Saturday – 13:00 – Fenrir

“Roll up in my Prius. I’m a star. Walk into the club. You probably wanted someone else. Hamburger in one hand, fries in the other. I’m a star.” If you relate to this sentiment, don’t miss Hrnnr & Smjörvi for their debut Solstice performance. The two Mosfellsbær kids burst onto the scene a little more than a year ago and have been making waves ever since. Their standout performance at Sónar included light sabres and desert visuals, and every track they’ve dropped since has been innovative and memorable. “Enginn Myndir” (“No Pictures”) contains the lyrics: “Dick pics? No, no. Flash pics? No no!” So this concert is safe for lesbians, straight men, and epileptics. HJC



Saturday – 15:00 – Gimli

Not everybody gets to be the warm up act to “The Pharcyde,” but Keflavík’s finest Kilo has. Last year, he released his biggest song, “Magnifico,” which has been racking up views online. Most Icelandic rappers rap in their mother tongue, but Kilo raps in the lingua franca. This is probably due to him coming from the town that used to service (and get into fights) with the American soldiers stationed at the Keflavík Navy base. The added benefit of Kilo is that he is a really likeable guy.


Herra Hnetusmjör

Sunday – 15:45 – Valhöll

Many rappers are fun, but not exactly technically impressive. That’s not the case for Herra Hnetusmjör. He has the silliest name in the rap scene—it translates as Mr. Peanut Butter (don’t ask). I don’t remember an Icelandic rapper with a faster, hard-spitting flow. It’s so frantic that he gives the Twinz Big Pun and Fat Joe a run for their money. So if you are interested in Icelandic rap, be sure to check out the country’s most technically proficient rapper.


Tappi Tíkarrass

Sunday – 20:00 – Gimli

In 1982, a sixteen-year-old girl appeared in a documentary which showcased the Icelandic punk/rock scene. Her band was Tappi Tíkarrass and this girl would end up becoming the most famous Icelander in history: Björk. Sadly, she won’t be appearing with her old band this time around, but Tappi Tíkarrass is a massive part of Icelandic music history nonetheless—and if you want to be a smart ass at parties and say “Björk? I’ve seen the band that kickstarted her career,” then you need to check them out. Plus, the name of the band means “Cork The Bitch’s Ass,” how bad-ass is that? Ass.


Daði Freyr

Sunday – 21:00 – Gimli

I love the 80s—they had the best music, and the best hair. Therefore, I also love 80s revival. Daði Freyr’s music is a throwback to a time when music was unironic and synths were still exciting. He competed in the Icelandic final for this year’s Eurovision, but lost to Svala. I felt he should have gone because his entry—“Hvað með það”—is amazing. He and his band wore matching sweaters bearing pixilated portraits of each member. That, and their synchronised dance routine, is reason enough to go see them.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Girl, Put Your Lipstick On

Girl, Put Your Lipstick On


Power In Numbers

Power In Numbers


Show Me More!