The Merchant’s Weekend is a national summer holiday, taking place this year July 30-August 1, when Reykvíkingar pile into cars en masse and head for an idyllic countryside retreat.
But for those left in the city, all’s not lost—Innipúkinn has you covered. This small-but-perfectly-formed music festival has taken place in Reykjavík each summer for the past fourteen years, bringing together a mixture of respected Icelandic bands and emerging talents for an almighty party.
One of the organisers is Ásgeir Guðmundsson, who talks ebulliently about both the festival’s roots, and its current incarnation.
“The direct translation of Innipúkinn in English is ‘inside demon,’” he explains. “It’s used to describe children who never want to go outside and play. It’s sort of a scary thing really—a negative term. Parents use it to encourage their children to go outside. But we’re using it because, when our festival started, it was directed towards all the festivals outside of Reykjavík. This is the biggest camping and travelling weekend of the year in Iceland. But many people in the music scene… event organisers, promoters… they’re not really into that. They wanna be in a room with a good sound system and a good bar, get some good music, truly enjoy themselves, and not mess about with camping and getting wet and rained on.”
Of course, with so many people pouring out of town, the Merchant’s Weekend does face a risk of under-attendance. But Ásgeir says there’s a certain type who comes along. “I think you get some great mix of people—you get the like-minded, good quality people. We don’t focus on one music genre—we just want to present the very best that the Icelandic music scene has to offer at any given time. It’s not purely electronic, rock, indie, metal… we give everyone their space, to showcase Icelandic music as it is in the moment.”
Have some fun, for god’s sake
Ásgeir has been in and around the Icelandic music scene for several years, working with bands and artists like Hjaltalín, Ilya, Samaris and Snorri Helgason. He has a deep fondness for Icelandic music, describing his work as “a beautiful experience.” Innipúkinn allows him to express that in various ways.
“Over the years we have developed an element of surprise, or nostalgia,” he explains, “where we take a legend from the Icelandic scene and combine it with some of the younger musicians. Last year we took Jakob Frímann and mixed it up with Amabadama, putting his classic songs into a reggae costume. We’ve also done Grísalappalísa and Megas—that was beautiful. And this year, we’re doing Helgi Björnsson—who made a great album last year—and Boogie Trouble, for a disco flavour. It’s about fun really. Icelandic music can be quite creative and serious—Björk, múm, Sigur rós and all that—and sometimes I think we need to just have some fun, for god’s sake.”
And for those secretly craving a countryside getaway, Innipúkinn even lays out a lawn on Tryggvagata. “It’s not really in the Innipúkinn spirit to get so outdoorsy,” smiles Ásgeir. “But you know. Some people just need that smell of grass—so if they’re thinking of going to the Westman Islands or whatever, we have grass as well!”
Get a ticket at Innipúkinn.is.