A Long-Awaited Music Hang-Out - The Reykjavik Grapevine

A Long-Awaited Music Hang-Out

A Long-Awaited Music Hang-Out

Published June 29, 2007

Inga Sólveig Friðjónsdóttir was scouting for a nice spot for her new bar and concert venue when she stumbled upon a hidden treasure in a Hafnarstræti alley, next door to club Gaukurinn. The building used to house the rather shabby pub Rökkurbarinn and the slot machine parlour Gullnáman, but all evidence of previous houseguests have long vanished and the place has been completely renovated and redecorated, boasting a roomy floor with a bar, a DJ cage and nice stage as well as a downstairs lounge room. The name still remains a secret, but the place can accommodate 300 people and is equally suitable for cosy seated concerts as well as more crowded and rowdy rock shows, and could easily become a long-awaited centre for local musicians and music lovers alike.

Scheduled to open its doors to a thirsty audience in the middle of July, the bar will undoubtedly come to be a true haven for rockers and their followers, who have been desperately lacking a proper venue that is reasonably sized and focuses with an ambition on the thriving music scene that Reykjavík has become so renowned for. Curious travellers who are eager to experience Icelandic culture and to catch a glimpse of what is going on, will now have a better chance of actually seeing a show of some sort, which will be a great boost for the downtown area.

“The plan is to host live gigs at least four times a weak but the place will be open daily as a regular bar. We want to provide a good venue for bands and musicians who are doing something creative and original. When the bar opens, they will have a reasonably sized place that is much cooler than all the other venues in the city and provides good facilities for the bands and the audience, a high-grade sound system and the bands will be able to charge admittance,” Gylfi Blöndal, the organiser explains.

“What kind of music will we be focusing on? I would just say Alternative music in the widest sense of the term,” he adds.

A Musical Mix
It’s safe to say that local musicians as well as the city’s music lovers are waiting with anticipation for the place to open its doors, as the scene has been suffering from a lack of good venues for the past years. In fact, there is not a single club in the city centre hosting concerts on such a regular basis today. At the same time, the music industry has been growing and many new acts have been catching attention and making a name for themselves locally as well as internationally. It should therefore not be too hard booking gigs numerous times a week and mixing new bands with the up-and-coming and more established ones, creating a great vibe on weekdays and weekends. For the concertgoers there is another bonus, at least for those who need to wake up early next morning and attend to their daily duties.

“We plan to have the concerts start at a decent hour. There have been so many complaints in the past about how late the concerts tend to start. If people want to party after the show, they can of course stay until the bar closes,” Gylfi adds.

A bar focusing on the music scene is not only a positive development for the city, but can be a first step for bands who have perhaps never played in public before. “I would think that it is our responsibility to care for young and inexperienced bands. That is beneficial for everyone. If we give young bands the opportunity to play, they will become more experienced and hopefully play many great gigs at our bar in the future. The music scene is also continuously experiencing some renewal and more and more bands are now touring around the world and gaining experience. In my view, the scene is also growing in size by the minute and established bands are popping up in every corner. I am convinced that a bar like this one can be profitable. Of course there probably will be some badly attended shows but the next night could be sold-out. You have too look at the big picture to make it work,” he adds.

Pop-Quiz and Rockumentaries
When asked whether they have a plan for the summer or if they have booked some big names to play at Organ in the next couple of weeks, owner Inga explains that she has been careful not to make too many long-term plans until everything is in its place. “I don’t want to do anything before I have all the permits I need to open the place, and we can’t get the permits before everything inside is completely ready. All I know at the moment is that we will be part of the Airwaves festival, but I definitely want to book international acts at least once a month” she says and Gylfi agrees, adding: “Five years ago people were booking great bands to play in Reykjavík on a regular basis, bands that would never play Laugardalshöll but were still worth all the expenses.”

They tell me that the venue will be much more than a concert venue and a bar. It will be a new meeting spot for all those interested in music, featuring various happenings and events. “Every Friday after work will be time for pop-quiz. Everyone knows something about music; many even think they know a lot, so now it will be time to find out. We are also planning on screening some interesting rockumentaries and documentaries twice a month and see if people are interested in watching a film together and have a good time. We might even organise lectures on music, as was sometimes done at gallery Klink & Bank, and was a really fun format. By organising events of this kind, we will hopefully appeal to people interested in music, no matter if they are creating their own or not,” Gylfi explains.

Bands and DJ’s interested in playing can contact Gylfi Blöndal: gylfiblondal@gmail.com

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