If you read yesterday’s Day 1 post, you’ll know how Day 2 started for me – with about four hours of sleep and being unable to get more. It didn’t hit me as hard as I expected until about midnight though, so Day 2 was pretty strong. And I managed my first full night of sleep of the entire trip last night, other than that ten minute period when some massively drunk dude was being held down on the sidewalk by a bunch of tourists until the police arrived at 4:30AM which was, of course, right across the street from our place. The mean streets of RVK 101.
Thursday opened with me back at Lucky Records, wrapping up my purchases for the trip. I walked away with a motley collection of CDs, records, and tapes and a lot less kronur in my pocket, and I’m super excited to get this stuff home to start blogging about it all. I won’t give you all the gory details as you’ll see them for yourself over the next few months. As always, the guys at Lucky were great, and I want to give a big Icelandic TAKK! to Ingvar, Gestur, and Johannes for always making us feel more like family than customers.
After fortifying ourselves with some lunch from Noodle Station, it was off to KEX Hostel to see Samaris (below). They’ve been regulars at the festival for a number of years but somehow we keep missing them. And after that set, I’m now pissed at my past self for passing them up all these years, because their set of electronic-vocal sultriness was the perfect antidote for a rainy Thursday afternoon. I hope everyone listening on KEXP, who were hearing the show just as they were waking up in the States, enjoyed it as much as we did. I swear one of these years I’m just going to not buy a festival pass and do nothing but hang out at all the KEX off-venue shows.
From there we headed back to Bíó Paradís to see the dream-pop duo Wesen, a pair featuring one of the dudes from Sudden Weather Change and the dudette from Oyama. Their banter and the way they interact with the crowd was every bit as fun as their music, and their quirky songs fit perfectly in the more intimate environment of the theater lobby.
Next up was the Icelandic PUNK Museum, which we finally found open on our third attempt. And damn, I have to hand it to Dr. Gunni and Finni (of Dr. Spock fame… you’ll hear more about them later in this post) – they put together an outstanding homage to punk in Iceland. Located inside a disused subterranean public bathroom right in the city center, the walls are plastered with old handbills, album covers, and factoids about Icelandic punk. Perhaps the coolest feature is the listening room that has album covers on the ceilings each with a pair of headphones dangling from them that play those actual albums. Super cool. Also cool is the pair of cassettes that are available for purchase, the first of which is a nice Icelandic punk comp while the other is filled with demos and live tracks, and they include download cards. In classic punk fashion, they’re recorded on regular old cassettes, and each has an individually hand-written label on it. A killer introduction to the punk scene here.
(Intermission – Holly just arrived with pastries from the new bakery Braud & Co. Wow! I’ll need to add them to my “recommended” list for next year!)
We then met some friends over at Slippbarinn to see Vök. You know, what more can I say about Vök that hasn’t already been said? They just get better and better every time we see them live, more confident on stage and tighter musically. They’re working on some new material, some of which they played, and I’m very much looking forward to their next release.
After an always-excellent Pakistani dinner at Shalimar it was a quick jog through the rain to Húrra to rock out with a trio of hard-hitting bands. First up was a relatively new genre-defying group Hórmónar (right), who combined punk attitude and hard rock/metal music (and the occasional saxophone) and in-your-face Icelandic vocals. I’m definitely going to keep tabs on these rockers, because I have a feeling we’re going to bearing a lot more from them in the coming years.
During our post-evening analysis, all five of us who went to Húrra agreed that when the next band set up on stage we were all fully prepared to dislike them – a four-man rock outfit with no vocals. Booo! Completely not in my wheelhouse. But it didn’t take long for the crowd (and us) to fall in love with Slovakia’s The Ills, who flat-out crushed it with their blend of jams, intricate and slow to fast and thrash and all points in between. They were obviously having so much fun up there on stage that it was infectious and by the end of the set they had us eating out of their hands. I should have tried to track them down after the show to buy a CD, but at that point we were intent on securing a good spot on the floor for the next band, the one we were in Húrra to see that night. I speak, of course, of the good doctor. Dr. Spock.
There was a lot of tension in the crowd prior to the set as more and more people moved to the front and started to pack it in. And a lot of those folks looked like they were going to be very serious about their Dr. Spock (left and below) experience. Then the band walked on stage and we were greeted with what you see here, the massive Finni sporting a ski mask and Óttarr looking like, well, Óttarr, snapping on that yellow glove like a demented back-alley plastic (or some other type) of surgeon about to cut you open with a jagged and very unsterile blade. And it didn’t take but a few second for things to get very real, very fast.
Holly was hesitant about being that close to the stage, and her concerns proved well-founded when the moshing started. As the show progressed we found ourselves edging backwards as the pit began reaching critical mass and started roiling like the water around the Kraken as it emerges from the water ready to destroy your city. The crowd was into it; the band was into; we were into it. By the time the reached the end of their set and “Sons of Ecuador” it was all just a mess of sweat and vape smoke and future hangovers as Dr. Spock took us to the finish line. Fantastic.
We were drained after the Dr. Spock assault, but still headed over to Harpa where we caught the tail end of Singapore Sling‘s big-stage set and then hung around to see the post-punk of Fufanu, another band that is slowly turning into a powerhouse and one I think is better suited for a larger stage and room like they had last night as opposed to a smaller venue that doesn’t give them as much space and sonic depth. They’ve got some great new material and we’re expecting an album soon.
Another killer night in the books! Two down, three to go!