From Iceland — Dispatches From The Corpse-Painting Station

Dispatches From The Corpse-Painting Station

Published September 6, 2010

Dispatches From The Corpse-Painting Station
Rex Beckett

Just down road from the bruised, bloody, moshing mess of Eistnaflug’s main venue Egilsbúð was another den of depravity and darkness. Those who were brave enough ventured to Enter The Mayhemisphere… possibly never to return! Set up in Stálsmiðjan, an abandoned steel factory down by Neskaupstaður’s shore, the off-venue programming of the festival provided a non-stop barrage of music, noise, art, performance, booze and… facepaint!?
Yes, that’s right. On the day the Mayhemisphere opened, this extremely hung-over writer, still smeared in the previous night’s facepaint, was informed that her facepainting kit (and skills!) were being enlisted for the yearly tradition of corpse-painting. I couldn’t really do anything about it—Aðalsteinn, one of the off-venue organisers, had already announced that shit on the radio. Fuck.
Pay-what-you-can, bjór og cigarettes appreciated
At 15:00 sharp, the smoke machines were on and all mayhem broke loose. My first corpse wanted to match his cowboy hat, kind of a dead-western thing. Freshly painted up as a demon and a dead dude, hybrid noise act DLXAMFJATX took over the PA with a gut-wrenching set of distortion and thrashing. I painted more faces in those twenty minutes than at any other point in the weekend.
Pretty soon after, crazy thrashmetal band Manslaughter unleashed their madness upon a packed house. A full-on mosh pit formed inside and the drunken fun was in full swing, literally— people were swinging off a long metal chain pulley left over from last year’s festival. The pop-up bar was selling the beer cheap, everyone was smoking indoors and it was open to all ages. It was awesome.
Swords Of Chaos’ bassist Úlfur frantically had me give him Euronymous paint as his band was about to start a set of deep, dark hardcore. What started off as a slowed-down jam session turned into a screaming fucking frenzy. Mayhemis-organiser and Retrön-er Kolli came over to the painting station and to tell me that I should have been charging for the facepaint since he had seen so many people downtown with my artwork. I realised that people actually hadn’t been as generous as I gave them credit for and decided to up the ante the next day. Day one at the Mayhemisphere was done.
“Will you paint my balls?”
 The final day of the festival started with some much needed morning (okay fine, afternoon) exercise with Black Metal vs. Death Metal football in the Mayhemisfield! Of course each team sported their own facepaint—Brazilian corpse-paint for BM, bleeding mouths for DM. Black Metal had a good lead there for a while, with some solid kickers and the goal protected by Bob Cluness in his Mexican wrestler gear, but it all ended in a very hung-over 3-3 tie.
Today’s programming saw a shittonne more performance art than the previous day, nearly all of which required me to paint up a bunch of naked men. No problem. The first set of balls I painted was being paraded around on a leash by his scary gothic drag queen dominatrix who prompted Bob Cluness to reveal: “You look like the woman who took my virginity. She promised she would be gentle. She lied.”
I missed the debut noise performance by Harry Knuckles while painting up Kolli and Helgi for their performance— a giant tube of empty beer cans was securely fastened to their genitals and the crowd was welcomed to limbo under it to win two free cases of beer! The fucking lame crowd just stood there against the wall staring blankly like they were being asked to go through a root canal without anaesthetic. Finally, an awesome woman with awesome hair claimed the prize by writhing her way across the ground shirtless on broken glass.
A musical performance by AMFJ followed, complete with Mexican wrestler crowd-stare down. Yelling and headbanging through the smoke aplenty were done. The final act to play (or maybe just that I could remember?) was Retrön, getting everyone into super- high-energy party-time with their 80s-style synth metal. As for the facepainting, while less busy than the previous day, charging 300 ISK, a beer or cigarettes paid off and I got fully hammered for free.
It was now time to Exit The Mayhemisphere and head to the main show. But then I did too many shrooms and sat on a hill tripping balls until Ása from Mammút asked if I wanted to go to her car and listen to auto-tuned songs. That sobered me right up. Finally went into the venue to watch DLX ATX-er Greg fulfil his crowd-surfing destiny, sprained my ankle while talking to friends and somehow made it to bed.

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