Saturday: The second half of the madness
In order to make sense of so much nonsense, I have broken this down into several easily understood categories. I hope this will enlighten and amuse.
The WTF Moment of Solstice
The bushes and patches of trees within the festival area became a popular spot for people tired of waiting in the porta potty lines. So people would head there to relieve themselves and do…other even less legal things. This wasn’t that surprising, but the group of card-carrying (septum-ring-carrying?) feminist who thought it was OK to film my friend’s dick when he was taking a leak. And when confronted, they didn’t think to stop nor did this seem to generate any kind of cognitive dissonance in their minds with regards to consent. Girl, if you’re reading this, plz erase your phone data and take a good hard look in the mirror (it’s that mirror displaying a sad creep).
The Fashion of Solstice
For the girls it was Kardashian braids and jogging pants. Anyone who a decade ago could have guessed that a family of Armenian reality stars would define Icelandic youth culture in 2017, deserves an Arthur C. Clarke Award.
For the boys it was a range of ostentatious streetwear. There was a time where I would have condemned this kind of blatant posturing, but in our post-truth, post-reality times who am I to question your truth. If a Bane face mask, vlone long sleeve and box-fresh jordans are what you want to wear to a rainy, outdoor music festival then don’t let me stop you.
The standout look of the festival is still Friday’s dancer sporting nothing but a green speedo accessorised with horny middle-aged concertgoers.
The Organisation of Solstice
For me, this was a huge step up for the festival. The learning curve is steep with music festivals of this scale and there has definitely been some learning-on-the-job for the organisers but this year all the major components came together. Sure, the curation is a little weird at times and the time slots were very odd (why are all the biggest rap acts on a Sunday?) but the flow of the festival area worked and the choice to have all the main stages outdoors was wise despite the intermittent rain.
The Music of Solstice: Represent Yourself
I spent the first half of Saturday almost exclusively at the Gimli stage with its focus on hip hop, grime, and R&B.
The absolute stand-out for the festival was Princess Nokia. I watched her rise in 2015 and 2016 while living in Brooklyn and it’s beautiful to see a strong Latina woman representing brujeria, comic books, 90s digital aesthetic, and old school east-coast hip hop. I don’t think I’ve heard a rapper boast about their city and upbringing this hard since Nas. Great live performance, with Nokia heading into the crowd to pick up blunts; mooning the crowd and delivering an electrifying, singalong encore of Tomboy, her biggest hit to date.
If I thought Princess Nokia was representing her corner of the world, UK grime MC Novelist took the idea to new and cartoonish heights. The man is so South-London that they should name a pub after him (The Novelist Arms?). The set was replete with references to his various ends and roads, boasts of his greatness, spelling bees to assist people in googling his work, and the kind of intense crowd-work that dancehall and grime MCs excel at. And for those wondering about the “technical difficulties”, I suspect that was part of the grime tradition of rewinds and acapella breakdowns rather than real tech glitches -a tactic that has become as much a part of the grime tradition as gun fingers and Drake.
Family friendly elders and horny kids
Icelandic act Úlfur Úlfur represent the more family-friendly end of the Icelandic hip hop scene. Not that they are Sesame Street, but they lean more in the direction of moral consciousness and philosophy. Their lyrics are rarely overtly political but they aren’t in their teens either and at their age it’s hard to avoid a big picture perspective for life, death, and love.
Contrastingly, Sturla Atlas are in their early 20s and more concerned with the day-to-day topics in the life of young men, like sex, dank weed, wanting to buy pugs, and drinking wine in San Francisco. Sturla has found considerable success locally and been at the forefront of the few articles about the Icelandic hip hop scene in the foreign press. While some of the appeal is lost on me, there is no denying that bleach-blond, sleepy-eyed frontman Sigurbjartur Sturla Atlason has bangers to spare — in particular his frosty sex anthem “Time” (featuring a line about sucking on women’s toes and therefore only a matter of time before you will catch it on a Tarantino soundtrack).
Music of Solstice: Viagra & Rogaine
Lairy, lad culture favourites Prodigy were a mandatory attendance, so I stood through four tracks in the cold rain, with nothing but my girl’s thighs for cover (sorry, people behind us, it was a bucket list thing for us and our bucket list is dumb). Keith and the boys are somehow still alive and still putting on an aggressive live show. They were the coolest band on Earth during the mid-90s as far as I was concerned, but in 2017, it served as little more than a jaunt down memory lane. Nostalgia aside, current trends in electronic music have gone whooshing past Prodigy, and their their new tracks smell faintly of Viagra and Rogaine.
But, if you like it, fair play, you got exactly the live show that you were promised and they haven’t changed a bit.
I ended the night by escaping into the dry confines of club venue Hel where Nitin and Droog did a serviceable b2b club set that ended as background noise to catching up with old friends. The Hel has not quite lived up to the beautiful stage set up and the Thursday lineup.
That’s it for Saturday.
Sunday: This is the end
I was too hungover to attend.
(I’ve been partying for 4 days. Cut me some slack).
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!