The summer of 2010 has been one of festivals and parties. Every goddamn weekend has been dominated by a three-day art or music or theatre or pottery or gardening extravaganza that you just can’t afford to miss. They all entail opening and closing parties, binge-drinking, staying up and throwing up and sometimes even watching a show or two.
We’ve been present for most of them, as you may have read about in our previous issues. Since fall’s cold, dark, wet darkness yet again looms over, we thought we’d take a look at some of the parties we’ve attended this summer and attempt to draw some sort of wisdom from it all. We figured that might come in handy, as there are yet more festivals on the horizon, cool ones like Menningarnótt, Reykjavík Jazz Festival and Iceland Airwaves. You can use this coverage to prepare, maybe.
So read on! for some words about Seyðisfjörður’s LungA, Reykjavík’s Gay Pride weekend, Neskaupsstaður’s Eistnaflug and the Faroese G! Festival. What wisdom did we draw? Well, if its raining, then folks generally have a worse time than if it isn’t raining. So don’t plan your festival to happen on rainy days.
PS – Festival planners: quit planning so many goddamn festivals! Doesn’t anybody hafta work anymore?
Neskaupstaður July 8 – 10
By Bob Cluness
I arrive at Neskaupstaður at six in the afternoon, after a long road trip with my young nephew and his six-month pregnant girlfriend. It took us twelve hours and half my day’s supply of alcohol to get there. Neskaupstaður this year feels colder and cloudier that last year. I’m told that there was a mighty downpour the night before, meaning that most of the campsite resembles a turgid swamp containing bestraggled heavy metal refugees.
Because of our lateness, we’ve already missed several bands, including Bastard and Svartidauði, so I grab a bag full of beers and head straight down to the venue so as not to miss anything else.
As I arrive, Endless Dark are already playing. Excellent. We can stop the EU, fine foreign foods and animals from invading this country’s borders, but we seem to have failed to stop the scourge of Crabcore from infecting the nation’s musical youth. When the ending of one song sounds eerily familiar to the chorus to Leona Lewis’ ‘Bleeding Love’, then you know you aren’t off to a flyer of a weekend. Add to this the bass player wearing the tightest, brightest blue shorts this side of Reno 911. However, I give a massive plus to the keyboard player and the fact that his hair looks like someone let off an afro bomb in his face.
Thankfully the atmosphere is raised a few notches with the arrival of everyone’s favourite doom/sludge metallers, Plastic Gods. But something doesn’t seem quite right onstage. Oh wait a minute, there seem to be gazillion guitarists up there. The music also seems to have mutated a bit. A couple of the songs seem to have been sped up so they now resemble a slowed down Soundgarden or Church of Misery. But they introduced a new song that that was closer to Neurosis, and was truly EPIC in its scope. By the end I was nodding my head thinking: “Why the fuck has no one signed these guys up?”
I need to decompress a bit, so I venture outside and catch up with people. By the time I get back inside, Fortíð have played most of their set. It’s safe to say that they are the polar opposite of Endless Dark—seething operatic black metal, all leather trousers and sweat. But as I’m already rather drunk as a skunk, I spend an inordinate amount of time staring at the sound desk, which seems to be a cross between the Starship Enterprise and the instruments from a Björk concert.
Ok we’ve experienced a fair amount of metal and hardcore. Now for something a bit different. Reykjavík! are not metal, but they are noisy and immensely good fun. Especially when you see lead singer Bóas, who jumps all over the place like a meth-smoking ferret on a hot plate. But the moshing I felt was a bit half-hearted, so I decided to get a decent cardio workout and leapt into the fray to throw some metalheads around a bit. Total joy, but I felt sorry for that poor guy I used as a makeshift battering ram…
I manage to catch the first half of Sólstafir’s ice bastard metal set. And they’re great, but… I’m not sure, there was something missing. When they played last year, Sólstafir were bathed in the darkest blood-red. And man they looked fucking terrifying, like David Lynch had directed the light show. Tonight it’s all bright white light and way too much smoke. The songs themselves are also good, but felt a little tired. I decide to spend the weekend’s food allowance on Brennivín and Ópal.
So far this evening has been all about alcohol, mass violence, bruises and metal in all its forms. But this seriously doesn’t prepare you for Napalm Death. Even though they have been around for three decades, they are more angry, focused and belligerent than just about anything else out there. Now, I could claim I’d taken notes about how this song was great and that song was tight. But I’d just be lying, as I spent most of the time right in the moshpit (moshpit? It was more like asymmetrical warfare) and it was simply an hour and a half of grindcore as the most brutal shock and awe I’ve experienced. At a couple of points I was seriously getting worried for my own personal safety. In my notebook I managed to scribble down “help!” and “Lord forgive me.”
I have no recollection of how I got to my bed, but the last thing I can remember is almost getting pole-axed by multiple shots of warm Ópal, somehow acquiring a specialised insulin needle, and squaring up to Klink and coming off worse to their superior judo moves.
By Rebecca Louder
I spent most of Friday slathering kids in corpse paint at the off-venueso I missed the entire afternoon programming over at Egilsbúð. I made it down just in time to catch the last few songs from Wistaria, whom my friend was super excited to see play. They were all shirtless and angry and real heavy, but there was something kind of nu-metal about the music. It was all “Look at my big monster cock slapping you in the face!” Nice homoerotic undertones. My friend, as it turns out, had mistaken them for some other band and was confused as hell.
Next up was some band whose name I wasn’t entirely sure of, but my first thoughts were “What the fuck is this shit?” Turns out it was Cliff Clavin. They weren’t actually bad, and I know there are always a few token non-metal bands at the festival, but I did not go there for weaksauce, radio-friendly, mid-‘90s alterna-rock! The bassist’s forced rock’n’roll posturing was so unbearable and unsuitable with the music, it was like watching a car crash.
Then Gone Postal came and saved the day. I believe it was my friend and colleague Bob Cluness who told me that at last year’s festival, Sólstafir spent their set immersed in smoke and red light and it was terrifying. Watching Gone Postal’s set made me fully understand this.
I went outside for a 500 ISK burger and on my way back in sensed I was in the presence of rubber gloves. I sure was, because Dr. Spock was on! Awesome! Reykjavík municipal government ROCKS! Maybe it was the hangover or the cheap burger but I found my mind tricking itself that Jón Gnarr was on guest vocals. That would have been cool. Anyway, it was all kinds of batshit crazy, as I hoped for.
I had to make a necessary run back to the off-venue, but managed to come back in time to see Momentum ripping through the concert hall. Seriously, it was kind of like being yelled at by a dinosaur. Nice one from the dude who decided to crowd-surf during the ballad portion of their set. Their last song was so epic and intense that long after it was finished, people could be heard chanting the chorus together. Moving, truly.
Finally it all ended with Sororicide and woooooooah… holy shit. If I were epileptic, I would have been having a seizure during their set. These guys really do their own thing, but most refreshing is that the singer kept up the growling voice while talking between songs. This band really was lovely. They had delightful interplay of growling and shredding and double-kick drumming. Simply stupendous.
By Sigurður Kjartan Kristinsson
Fuck. That’s what slithered through my beaten-up mind when I woke up the morning of the last day of the notorious Flight of the Testes. Several reasons for the fuck, to tell the truth, but fuck can be elicited by various motivations. Fuck, my tent is wet, is that really weird rain or is some dude peeing on my tent? Fuck, who’s this broad lying next to me. Fuck, I’m hung-over as hell. Fuck, I bottomed all the booze yesterday and will have to drive to the next fjord to buy some more. Fuck, it’s so late the pools probably filled with ill-reeking metalheads. Fuck, did all that shit from last night happen? But mainly: FUCK YEAH, the last night of Flight of the Testes is at hand and, pardon my French, but it will be gruesomely epic! To get over these several fucks, me and my flock of seagulls decided to give the shabby-metal-brunch at the hotel a go, advertising the feast of a lifetime all over town on sloppy yellow stickers. That turned out to be ludicrously overprized sloppy hotel buffet, so it ended up adding another fuck to the table rather than eradicating the others. But they had though some sort of a snobby-lobbyish metal playlist burning up their stereo, “Boys are back in town” by Thin Lizzy and other similarly accessible “heavy metal”. That was kinda funny. A definite drug of choice whilst you’re stuffing your face with bacon and the like.
When we reached Egilsbúð for the concert it once again proved that the organisers at this great festival could basically cut out the the first five acts that take place between 3 and 6 pm, without anybody giving a fuck. Firstly, the sound always seems to suck that early and the first gigs seem to serve as some kind of sound checks, and secondly, the performers are never getting jiggy wit it, maybe because they’re yet too hung-over or maybe ‘cause there isn’t anybody there. It was at least a godsend that the scandalous off venue, Mayhemisphere, showcased acts such as Retrön that had dreadfully been cursed to perform in front of an empty hall. But you can’t blame the crowd; everybody was just getting marinated in the sun, puffin’ a spliff and getting ready for the night’s mania. Or getting their faces all splattered in corpsepainted, courtesy of our dear Ms. Louder. And most things were actually much awesomer in the artsy Berlinesque factory than in Egilsbúð, which added a greater depth to the “Flight of the Testes” scene this year.
The festival’s climax was undeniably the mind-blowing combination of Mínus’ early stuff and the ear-raping wall of sound that Severed Crotch created. Jesus Christ Bobby, it’s really ineffable. Fuck.
By Bogi Bjarnason
Saturday rises like a bad hangover in my cot at Eistnaflug central. Last night was all Bob Cluness spraying drunkenly in my ear and the odd idiot getting in fights. Today is the end of money, wits, bands and endless trudges to the campsite for those who can’t seem to hitch a ride.
Retrön somehow got the short end of the stick and open up tonight’s proceedings. Pity for them, ‘cuz these fine fellows in spandex can really tear up a crowd a lot larger than the seventeen souls present at this early hour—especially if their stellar drummer boy brings his A-game.
Moldun are a machine of internet self-promotion. I catch their airwaves in the Jacuzzi at the public swimming pool next door to the venue and can’t make out didley squat. Rumour has it they trade in run of the mill metalcore, and that I’m better of relaxing in the bubbling water.
Next up is football. The irony of missing the second half of Uruguay and Germany’s bronze medal World Cup game to play black metal vs. death metal football is not lost on me. Rebecca Louder paints the teams in appropriate colours, and the game is a draw despite the fact that that black metal is for anorectic shut-ins and death metal reigns supreme among art forms.
I catch up with In Memoriam and am disappointed as well as batshit drunk. I think the sound production fucked them. Beneath are competent but can’t seem to hold your humble writer’s attention. A passed out Bob Cluness in the backroom bar provides more entertainment as I tape his shaved head with messages about his cluelessness.
Kolrassa Krókríðandi are the next perpetrators. I don’t feel qualified to comment on their trite genre. In short: they bored me. I feel like I’m getting into a negative rut here, but I can’t help it. Since Mínus seemingly shifted creative control from the brilliant backbone of Bjössi and Bjarni to the pretentious wail of Krummi and Siggi, I felt better arguing with a French writer than witnessing them. I sorely regret this as news reaches me of an old school Jesus Christ Bobby set.
By now it’s time to pay attention. Celestine are up and there’s no need to pray they will slay. Bludgeoning post-metal on par with early Isis and Neurosis erupts like a stack of anvils to the chest. These guys obliterate and should be signed big time, post fucking haste.
Headlining megaliths Severed Crotch—Severed motherfucking Crotch!—explode like a cluster bomb raid. They perform with vigour and employ every single trick in the playbook to an ecstatic crowd. Shit is right legitimate with them fuckers and smiles are plastered on every face as the pit implodes and a paraplegic is flung from the stage into a stage dive. Mind-boggling is the recipe for the ‘Crotch and spent is the feeling of revellers in the pit.
After the night quickly degenerates into a THC fuelled, alcohol driven meleé to the tunes of DJ Töfri. People get bare-chested on the dancefloor and the bus leaving at ten am is quickly forgotten about. Bad move on my behalf.
LungA Festival Music Madness
Two wristbands, torrential rain, some rockin’ and not so rockin’ bands
By: Emily Burton
I made it to the Kimi Records show just as Sudden Weather Change took the stage. Sudden Weather Change reminded me of every mediocre alt-rock band of the ‘90s. Nearly every song in their set used the same repetitive 4-count pattern, loud-quiet-loud dynamics, and 3/4 song break down before the last chorus. With three vocalists singing the same lyrics in the same range, the vocals sounded washed out and unaffected. The same thing applied to the three guitars. Without a definitive lead and lack of creative rhythm exchanges, the guitars served nothing more than to fill the room with unmerited distortion.
Sudden Weather Change needs to add something to their sound. : unexpected rhythms changes, interesting guitar effects, harmonic diversity, synchronized windmills, something. They should listen to Pixies’ Surfer Rosa and Dinosaur Jr.’s You‘re Living All Over Me a few more hundred times and take notes on how to create successful noise rock atmosphere, the occasional killer guitar solo, and powerful and effective vocal projection. If you plan on blowing the audience away with a block of sound, I expect more originality and energy than what they brought to the stage. At the end of their set, they half-heartedly shook their guitars at their monitors without any suspense of possibly smashing their instruments. We had to wait for Kimono to take the stage for some real rock and roll.
Next up was the five-piece psych-pop band Tape Tum from Belgium. In between passing the whiskey bottle around on stage, Tape Tum turned out some of the best music of the night. The drummer used creative, jazz influenced change-ups and fillers, holding together some rather complex arrangements throughout their set. The beginnings to a few songs reminded me of ‘Nights in White Satin’ by the Moody Blues. Just when I thought the music was headed somewhere epic, Tape Tum would throw in some ‘60s pop rhythms reminiscent of an up-tempo Zombies song.
The trumpet player/maraca shaker stole the show with some crazy voodoo dancing. Kudos to him for looking like the one guy on stage possessed by the music. He even played some serious trumpet on some songs. Tape Tum found the perfect balance between noise and silent space in their more distorted songs. They jumped around, added in some spooky samples at all the right moments, and even threw in some Beach Boys baa baas to end their set. Tape Tum was definitely the most mature and original band of the night.
Next up was Stafrænn Hákon who played a bland, forgettable set: typical alternative music, cliché lyrics, nothing about their sound stood out compared to the rest of the bands. Kimono came on last and rocked harder as a three piece than all the other 4-5 piece bands. My only complaint about Kimono’s set is that it lacks variety. But they do what they do very well. Kimono mixes post-punk, grunge, prog-rock and touch of early metal into a kick-ass rock show. Articulate lead guitar solos, interesting and percussive rhythm guitar, and fast, precise drum builds, Kimono brought everything to the stage that Sudden Weather Change left out. Lead singer Alex MacNeil reminded me of the Cure’s Robert Smith with his effortless, wavering vocal stylings. Everything about their performance made Kimono seem like hard rock veterans.
Saturday we caught the end of Miri’s set. The few songs we heard sounded like an indie jam band without any interesting solos or dynamic ambiance. Not terribly thrilling. Seabear played next, followed by Hjaltalín. Both bands, full of non-festival friendly instruments like violins and oboes, played decent sets but lacked the energy and excitement of later bands like Retro Stefson and Bloodgroup. Playing one after another, their sets sounded too similar and unenthusiastic. Playing a festival requires more than proving you can recreate what your new album sounds like. Both bands have excellent musicians; they just need to learn how to play for a wide audience, not necessarily there to see their set.
Next up was Retro Stefson. They combined funk, African chants, dance, Icelandic lyrics, and pop-rock. Their set was by far my favourite out of all the bands that played at LungA. The lead singer jumped around stage with his hoodie and guitar like he was Rocky (the first Rocky, when he was still cool). Most of the crowd forgot about the rain and danced along to every song. Retro Stefson met and surpassed every requirement for a successful festival concert: they played a varied set, interacted with the crowd, and stood out from the rest of the bands with their unique sound and contagious energy.
Bloodgroup rounded out the night with some high-energy, dark electro-pop. By that time, my friend and I were exhausted from the day’s festivities and all the rain. When we left, everyone was drunk-dancing to Bloodgroup’s sound and light show. All in all, the music at LungA was enjoyable enough to make me want to go next year (as long as it doesn’t rain so much!).
LungA festival: music, arts and rain
By Alexandra Young
“You know what they say about the weather in Iceland don’t you? If there’s good weather in the west, it’s shitty in the east,” explained a co-worker shortly before we embarked on a journey to Seyðisfjörður for the LungA festival. My travel companion and I laughed at him.
Guess who’s laughing now.
After a smooth flight over landscapes reminiscent of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, we touch down to the unseasonably cold winds of Egilsstaðir to find that the last coach to Seyðisfjörður is long gone. We spend a few moments frantically devising a plan to hot-wire a car but that ceases to be an option when the airport bolts its doors shut and all signs of life disappear.
With luggage suspiciously resembling a couple of body bags, we drag our stranded asses to the road and unenthusiastically stick our thumbs out. The first passer-by picks us up, setting us en route to our destination. Thirty minutes later, the car descends into Seyðisfjörður and a gloomy halo of mist gathers around the mountains, concealing us from the rest of the world. Seyðisfjörður projects a mesmerising eerie atmosphere which can’t be reproduced outside of Iceland. Yet this beautiful backdrop serves as a great contrast to the happenings below…
Where’s the apocalypse?
Blackouts, vomiting, violence and fornication: all the sinning and debauchery one can dream of can be attained at LungA. But before we can join in the revelry, we decide to check out an experimental performance set up by the workshop group, ‘Through the eye, out the ear’.
The unsettling scene before us looks like a futuristic wasteland and is accompanied by screeches of white noise from the surrounding speakers. A sinister woman, clad as a blood-red dominatrix, steps onto a fire-painted platform, manhandling an innocent-looking girl dressed all in white. The dominatrix forcefully smears red jelly all over the girl in white. Then, she binds the girl’s hands and drenches her in red paint. The audience watch in confusion and wonderment, despite the painfully-slow pace of the performance.
The performance ends and we notice a smoky caravan next to the performance stage. We step inside and see a group of tattooed men wearing floral dresses sitting around a table sipping tea. Their heads are covered in green bags, each one with a noose tied around their neck. Slightly disturbed and confused, we walk through the caravan and find painted sticks scattered among the other rooms. “The theme was catharsis – a rebirth through explosions,” explains Helgi Örn Pétursson, one of the workshop leaders. We nod our heads, still confused.
We tear ourselves away to hit the swimming pool. Of course the most potentially relaxing experience of the weekend has to be destroyed by a band playing painfully discordant and distressing music. “Go be all ‘cool and experimental’ someplace else!” a voice shouts from the hot tubs. As we walk to the pool we run into a fully-clothed audience watching the concert. Embarrassed for wearing swimsuits in a swimming pool, we run to the hot tubs instead and the moment our toes touch the steaming water it’s all deemed worthwhile.
Next we decide to check out the Friday night Kimi Records concert. Despite being one of the festival’s highlights, the venue is close to empty and the people there are sitting down. I suspect that people have opted for the cheaper option of causing mayhem at the campsite, or maybe people just aren’t that into music… Either way it makes for a nice shelter from the rain.
Suddenly, to lift everyone’s spirits even higher, we’re all kicked out and told to pay in order to get back in for the ‘after-party’. We comply and find Quadruplos filling the room with drunken dance moves. A man of a similar appearance to (YouTube sensation) The Techno Viking is angrily bopping his head to the beat, spitting and frothing at the mouth while throwing beer cans at the audience. And with that we went home, for fear of our lives, to find all of our belongings soaking wet.
The morning after…
We wake up from our drunken sleep and stumble out of our tent. The clouds slide down the mountains, onto the earth and the rain turns torrential. After overhearing a guy saying that he slept in a trash bag after his tent sprung a leak, we shake off any complaints we have from the night. We throw on the same ensemble we’ve been wearing for the past two days, scorning those who look like they just stepped off the runway. Clearly, they aren’t camping.
It’s impossible to think of anything but the rain. The cafés and restaurants are crammed till bursting point so we scour the streets for hours with little to do. With a couple of clothes markets, some unsuccessful barbecues and an outdoor concert to follow, it’s evident that LungA is taking a hard hit from this unexpected bad weather.
We walk back to our tent to find our things gone, and it’s not until I start running around like a crazy person accusing those around for stealing our things that we realise about a hundred more tents have sprung up just like ours.
Crap. We apologetically back away.
The grand finale
Finally the festival’s crowning concert swings round and for the most part the rain seems to dominate the main stage, as it’s about the only thing that has any effect on the audience. A majority of the crowd gathers underneath any form of shelter they can find—including our umbrella space—while a few brave ones embrace the wet. They remain unphased by most of the bands until Retro Stefson take to the stage—unless you count the odd idiot dancing to Seabear like it’s a fucking Brazilian carnival. By the end, Bloodgroup have transformed a lifeless crowed into a dance floor buzzing with energy.
We head back to camp with our spirits raised to find the remnants of a battle field. The earth has transformed into a pool of mud, most of the campsite lies in ruins and beer cans overflow out of every tent. Campers run around, drunkenly yelling, screaming and causing as many fights possible as if they are getting drunk for the very first time.
The queue for the toilets is endless as every stall has someone passed out on the inside, and after being severely put off by the young girl with her face buried in a sink she just threw-up in, we decide it’s time to hit the hay. “You’re not done just yet,” exclaims one of the girls. “You’re not done with the festival experience until you’re passed out in grass with your face buried in the mud!”
No thank you.
Gøta’s G! Festival brought the ruckus
By Haukur S. Magnússon
The good people of the G! festival over in the Faroe Islands decided it was a good idea to invite us over to cover the 2010 edition. We have written about their bash a number of times, and our reviewers have usually come back waxing all ecstatic about the event, its guests, the musicians performing, the town of Gøta and its locals, not to mention the Faroe Islands themselves.
I plan on doing the same. Despite some pretty major setbacks this year, G! Festival is altogether pretty fucking awesome, both in concept, execution and setting (that beach they host it on is goddamn beautiful, and so is the town of Gøta, its mountains and its houses. In his GV review of G! 2007, Ben H. Murray described the set-up as one suitable for “Valhalla’s own music fest”—who am I to disagree).
Here are some negative things about G! 2010. They can pretty much all be written off as ‘rain related’ (except for Danish rock sucking):
*It rained so much on the first day that the cool beach stage they have couldn’t be used for the rest of the fest, and massive scheduling problems (as well as lots of confusion) ensued.
*In fact, everyone’s tents blew away from the festival campsite, so lots of folks were left wet and stranded (some folks were saying that the Faroes’ entire tent supply sold out that next day). There seems to be a common theme to outdoor festivals: if it rains, then that is a pretty big problem. Folks get wet and angry and they smell. Then they get super intoxicated to be able to deal with all the rain and wet feet and lacklustre sleeping conditions, and will often seem to be forcefully watching the bands, just to get their money’s worth. Taking notes in the rain is also hard.
*We arrived there late on the second day of a three-day bash (conveniently missing the brunt of the rainstorm that laid waste to the fest’s campsite a day earlier), so we missed FM Belfast and Týr, among others. I am not Týr’s biggest fan (hell, I don’t even like their patented brand of Viking Hero LARP Metal), but seeing them perform at G! has long been a fantasy of mine. And it really would have been nice to see the unusually enthusiastic G! crowd react to FM Belfast’s set.
*Reykjavík’s own Bárujárn only got to play four songs before being whisked off stage to make room for Brandur Enni.
*Saturday’s headliners, Danish bro-core outfit Nephew, proved once and for all that Danes should under no circumstances be allowed any attempts at playing rock music. Ever.
*Local Gøta hero, the super-talented singer/songwriter Eivør Pálsdóttir, had her would-be triumphant homecoming set badly marred by all the rain. I was actually well impressed by her performance, but hanging out with her family later I got the impression that they were upset by it all, and that made me sad. A brilliant performer and a rising songwriter, it would have been nice if Eivør had been able to shine like she is capable of.
*I missed local electro outfit The Ghost’s set, and I hear it was awesome.
*I tasted ‘skerpikjöt’ (rotten leg of lamb) for the first—and last—time.
That out of the way, let us focus on all the positive things to be said about G! 2010:
*Gøta is a fucking gorgeous setting for a music festival, rain or no rain. I often found myself looking up and around when bored by a particular performer and getting all flabbergasted and warm inside. This is especially important at a diverse and ‘liberally booked’ festival like G!, where some of the bands might suck. You can stare at the mountains while they get through with their sucking.
*The camaraderie on display throughout the event was admirable, heart-wrenching and comparable only to what may be found at Ísafjörður’s Aldrei fór ég suður festival. Little kids, grandparents, teenagers, tourists and everyone in between gather to solemnly celebrate and enjoy a maddeningly diverse, often eclectic bill of music. This is good.
*The ‘dance’ stage and everything that went on around there. Memories of watching extremely intoxicated folks breakdance around in knee-deep puddles to the advanced beats of DJ Djuna Barnes at four in the AM will keep me going a long time.
*Despite several setbacks, Bárujárn played a stunning set of four songs. The last one, a lovingly crafted version of Icelandic classic ‘Brennið þið vitar’ (in tribute to a recently departed friend) brought tears to my eyes.
*Faroese thrashmetal band Synarchy played a super-tight, super exciting set of death-trash to an ultra-enthusiastic crowd. Metal lovers would do well by checking them out (they are sorta like Severed Crotch, but not really). The far more famous Swedish thrashers Arch Enemy also put up a rockin’ show on the main stage, but I’d still choose me some Synarchy over them any day.
*Danish folk-punks Afenginn also brought the party to a great climax, with their dreadlocked singer man bringing the audience into all sorts of frenzy. Fans of progressively junky roots music should give them a listen.
*Down at the beach, the Höyry Sauna party brought the good vibes (as well as excellent relief from all the rain) throughout the festival. These Finnish hippie-types set up a sauna-tent right by the sea, where one could sweat out toxins in the company of naked and drunk locals, interspersed with dips into the cold North-Atlantic. They also performed some pretty weird DJ sets throughout. If you ever have the chance to hang out in a sauna on the beach in Gøta while listening to a drunken, dreadlocked Finn ramble over techno polka beats, take it.
*The locals. They were so awesome. We got housed with a local family, and getting a glimpse of Faroese family life was enlightening and heart-warming. Every single person one confronts seems ready to help you with whatever you need help with, and concerned if you are genuinely having a fine time (not all of them knew I was a journalist, either). The highpoint of the festival was most definitely when we got invited for dinner at a local grandmother’s house, and got to share food, drink, stories and hugs with the entire extended family. This is the sort of happening that can and will reaffirm your belief in humanity, and it is a clear reason why you should try and visit G! some day.
*As a whole, the event proved without doubt that the Faroes have a diverse, vibrant and exciting music scene going on, with a number of established and excellent musicians operating out of there. Expect great things in the future.
*Visiting the Faroese incarnation of Sirkús in Tórshavn was really something, too. Operated since last year, the proprietors have really managed to capture the essence of the legendary Icelandic pub, and no trip to the Faroes is complete without a visit.
This all said, I must infer that if you get a chance to visit the G! Festival, you should take it.
Soaked In Rainbows
Grey skies didn’t stop Gay Pride
By Rebecca Louder
After a couple of super sunshiny days last week, I was getting my hopes up that the celebrations would be bright, warm and fabulous. But then Iceland had to go be Iceland and get all gross on us right when we were going to board the Queer Cruise on Friday. What an asshole. Regardless, we boarded the whale watching boat that the party was happening on and set sail for fun times.
The good people at Elding provided the party with tons of cheap booze—500 ISK for wine! Wow! Unfortunately though, it seemed that most of the people in attendance were not really in the party zone and mostly stayed indoors, sipping their once-boxed Merlot. Maybe some streamers or balloons would have spiced things up. Luckily I ran into a friend there who was completely sauced and hilarious, so we flashed a cruise ship and danced in a conga line around the upper deck until the boat docked.
Can’t rain on our parade
Saturday was the big day when all the bears, queens and twinks took to the streets to march. The parade kicked off uproariously with our mayor Jón Gnarr decked out in granny-drag, waving like the Queen Mum from the top of a float. It went on with a series of fairly random floats, such as the bride-and-groom girls unenthusiastically shuffling about to Daft Punk, a ‘queer for Christmas’ theme and some kind of Gay Disney float. There were also some impressive ones like the stunning operatic drag queens, Haffi Haff in a Lady Gaga-esque white lace bodysuit and of course the magnificent finale of Páll Óskar rising into the sky in a red tube.
The show that followed at Arnahól was short and sweet and a perfect length for the hundreds of tuckered out kids and bladder-full drunk adults. Most of the acts weren’t all that impressive though. Sigga Beinteins did turn out a pretty fantastic performance, even if the music wasn’t my cup of tea. Love him or hate him, Haffi Haff performed his heart out and got the crowd’s attention. And of course the host of the show, Mr. Páll Óskar, pulled out all the stops and had people dancing all the way up the hill.
Where my gays at?
Of course after the kids went home there was a full night of gay fun ahead to be had. The city was in rare form and the streets were littered in sad, dirty confetti and decrepit rainbow flags. I squeezed my way into NASA before it filled over capacity and to see Páll Óskar for a third time that day, owning the stage under a trellis of pink balloons. The crowd was going absolutely berserk for the man, but it wasn’t very queer, so after many amazing songs and the heat level rising to an unbearable level, I headed up to Barbara to find the gays.
I got up there and saw a few more same-sex makeouts, but that isn’t saying much. I bumped into my friend from the boat who thought there were too many straight people in the bar and he ordered me to go find the unofficial gay pride rave down on Skúlagata and tell him if it was any fun. Once I found it, the music was way better than Barbara with real DJs playing real techno, but the rest was just your typical 101 hipster crowd standing and leaning on things, talking to each other through the sides of their mouths. And still too many breeders. You could smoke indoors though, that was pretty cool.
Chill-Out at the Centre of the Universe
Iceland’s First Electronica Festival
By: Þórður Ingi Jónsson
Journey to the Centre of the Earth
I take the 8:00 bus on August 6th en route to Hellissandur where the Extreme Chill festival is being held. Upon arrival I’m welcomed by Pan Thorarensen and Andri Már, two of the festival’s promoters, at a beautiful house by the ocean. Empty beer cans serve as reminders of last night’s party. Later, the concert starts at the local community centre.
The video projections by Guðann Þór Bjargmundsson suit the tunes well, depicting a timelapse video of beautiful Skagaströnd, mixing it with 16mm films from the ’30s and ’40s. The serene films remind me of the ever present beauty of an Icelandic landscape, made even more present by the fact that upon exiting the venue you are confronted with the great Snæfellsjökull, made famous by Jules Verne when he confirmed that the dormant volcano was actually the passage to the center of the earth.
Plasmabell plays a dubby set with euphoric sounding ambient. Behind her you can see recent film school graduate Hallur Örn filming a documentary of the festival.
Jafet Melge’s (Óskar Thorarensen) music sounds very much in harmony with nature. Many of his projects have a timeless feel (Inferno 5, Stereo Hypnosis). Noise and feedback-heavy but beautiful at the same time, you can tell that this electronic stalwart has years of experience in the field. His is a sound that has clearly evolved through the times. It’s surely one of the best sets on Friday. Pan lays down behind his father, chilling on the stage floor.
Twenty-something Steve Sampling has been a part of the hip-hop scene for many years; here he plays material absent from new album, “Milljón mismunandi manns”. It’s melodic and sample-heavy electronic with obvious hip-hop influences that become apparent as the first song plays; it sounds like a G-funk ensemble wrapped in a dreamy electro vibe. Then he serves some nice cuts and scratches. Fifteen minutes in and the dancefloor is suddenly occupied.
Frank Murder puts on some cheap bling backstage and someone calls him “the pimp of electro,” assessing him as one of the most enjoyable acts of the evening. He has a powerful stage presence and compels people to keep the dancefloor filled.
The next act, Futuregrapher, is awesome. The man is competent at making futuristic-ass acid beats, self-described as “Eno with no arms”. By this point people are stumbling home. Unlimited access to beer rendering even the hardest partygoer incapable of listening to more techno.
Everyone began their Saturday with a massive hangover. Some go swimming in the cool ocean and some simply enjoy the fact that we’ve been graced with a clear sky and sunshine instead of being pissed on again; a guarantee of every Icelandic outdoor festival. After the relaxation, the community center is cleaned. Some barbecue and hackey-sack as For Tunes play a pretty set with haunting vocals. Not all of it wistful, as many tracks are dance-friendly. They have to stop midway to fix some unpleasant feedback, but it doesn’t affect their performance and they continue playing to much applause.
Reptilicus are a great variance from the nature-tinged electro, they are pioneers in Iceland’s industrial and noise music scene, having experimented since 1988. They are accompanied by artist Snorri Asmundsson, who describes his performance as “improvised, dressing up in co-ordance with the vibe and delving into the music’s frequency.”
Afterwards, a local tells me about a few years of growing up in Hellissandur and interesting viewpoints on how he witnessed circulation of bestiality VHS tapes, extreme violence, inbreeding and apparently, alot of chicken-fucking. There are more attendees than on the first day, but I am told that there would have been more people if someone hadn’t been circulating mushrooms at the camp site.
Biogen is a reccurring character in Reykjavik’s electronic scene, playing head-bangable acid beats. It’s always pleasant to see him perform, the man has been making electronic for a long time. The police had arrived because there were stories of locals coming to beat up the city people. The cops were stopping cars on the way and prevented some brawls in the parking lot.
The last performer of the night is France’s Moonlight Sonata who goes mad on the crossfader; he had brought with him whole boxes of vinyl of dubby techno that he disc-jockeys. It’s a good musical ending to the festival.
A Job Well Done
When all was said and done, a new festival was born to a meagre fanfare of 250 people. It will be fun to see it evolve in the coming years. Everyone with a passing interest in music should plan to go to the countryside, chill out and listen to some electro next year. There just might be some good come out of it.