My god I’m broken….
As of now i´m reduced to coughing, hacking fits and my head has turned into an intensive mucous producing machine. I feel like something has crawled into my head and died.
And the cause of this? Only the numerous types of germs and anthrax from the local sheep population and metal heads that emanated from this years EISTNAFLUG! Yup, as per usual, this years festival was as fun as ever, and there will be some proper reviews of the bands and the festival in coming editions of the Grapevine. But for now, while my brain is still running at fevered temperatures, here are some thoughts and highlights of the festival.
BANDS, BANDS, BANDS! (and Magni….)
This years line up was a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the bands were a bit ordinary, some of them were to be honest, a bit crap. But those that were good, were really, REALLY good! Some of the following highlights for example were;
– The bullish crossover thrash of MANSLAUGHTER (“Eistnafluuuuug!”).
– The truly defining gig from SÓLSTAFIR, showing why they are now destined for much bigger things in 2012.
– MOMENTUM and their awesome prog doom, which has us all joining in with cries of “Hooooolding Baaaack!” at the end.
– ATRUM & GONE POSTAL were the best of the local extreme bands that weekend.
– EIRÍKUR HAUKSSON. Man that geezer can sing! it was truly a style and effort from a bygone era of 80’s power metal that people don’t, or rather can’t, do any more. The kids loved them and so they should.
– PLASTIC GODS, especially singer Ingó whose growls were pitched for maximum power. My prostate was still like a sponge the day after.
– And of course there was HAM, but more about that later…
But there was one thing that was a little bit off. Well actually very way off, and that was the foreign acts that played. I missed Faroese band HAMFERÐ due to having to mend my shorts in a nearby bar, but out of the other three, only TRIPTYKON actually lived up to the hype. SECRETS OF THE MOON suffered from having the energy sucked out of their sails by Sólstafir, while THE MONOLITH DEATHCULT just sounded a big swampy mess. Perhaps they just thought that all they needed to do was turn up and the locals would fall over themselves, praising these big international stars. Sorry guys, but one thing that Eistnaflug is not is easy. People here know their noise and you have to bring your A game to this, otherwise you may well just fuck off and go home.
And as for the bands that sucked? Well a lot of them were from those early on the bill. Festival openers DÁNARBEÐ were very shaky, DIMMA was frankly cock rock wank, while TRASSAR (which had the singing exploits of one Magni “Rockstar Supernova” Ásgeirsson) was rather boring. He may be a natural performer and tried his best, but Magni trying to tell us that he was always a rocker wasn’t going to kid anybody, considering his latest Eurovision exploits barely a couple of months ago.
I rest my case
AN ARMY OF LITTLE PEOPLE HELPERS…
Of course the likes of Stebbi and Guðny are the “faces” of Eistnaflug, but their were the real people who made it happen, toiling away in the background. There were the cool, calm doormen (one of whom, i actually work with his brother!), who never got flustered and even joined the revellers at the camp site on Saturday night. Then you had the sound guys who really got the most out of the PA and made most of the bands sound biiig. It’s worth noting that the only time when a band demanded “their own sound man”, as was the case with the Monolith Deathcult, it was one of the few times everything sounded off. (UPDATE – Actually organiser Guðny has just contacted me to say the likes of Momentum, Mammút, HAM, Skálmöld and Triptykon also wanted their own sound guy to be present at the gig. So much for investigative blogging eh? I still stand by the shoddy sound of the Monolith Deathcult though)
And of course there were the lovely bar and cloakroom staff at Egilsbúð who not once told me to fuck off when by all rights, they really should have put a brick between my eyes….
FUCK THA´ POLICE!
Over the previous years the police approach to Eistnaflug has been one of “Softly Softly” with them taking a background approach and being more than happy to mix with the concert goer . More often than not this has been one of practicality more than ideology (there are only several police officers that cover the entire area of NE Iceland so rounding up dozens of partygoers can prove impractical), but the locals are not that worried or scared as it only seems that the main danger from the festival goers is to themselves.
But that all changed this year. There was a much more “Proactive” presence with many cars being stopped and searched on the way to the festival. And they tested out their new sniffer dog at the campsite several times over the weekend. They ended up making a few dozen busts, mostly for small amounts of weed possession. Now i can understand them having a “job to do” and sometimes trying to light up a bong in a car just as the police stop you is plan stupidity. But after a few busts, the police were STILL at it at 7am on a Sunday morning as the festival was winding down! Surely after busting people three times over, you could at least let them get some sleep.
Whatever the outcome, you’re likely to see more of an “Us V Them” element in future Eistnaflugs, and this is a shame.
THE ALICE IN CHAINS COVERS BAND ARE A GREAT BUNCH OF GUYS AND I WON’T HAVE A BAD WORD SAID AGAINST THEM!…
Well, OK you could say whatever you want, but the fact is that thanks to one member, i was reunited with my lost wallet. You see i rather drunkenly lost it on Thursday night and was fully expecting to cancel my cards on Friday morning if it hadn’t appeared at Egilsbúð. So imagine my surprise when i had a missed call from someone after going to the pool. Calling back, it turned out it was the guitarist to the Alice in Chains band. Apparently he was staggering back to his apartment where he found my wallet on the pavement. Upon checking the cards he went, “hey i think this that guy who writes for the Grapevine!”, whereupon he called the offices on Friday asking for my number! Man, what a save that was!
DEATH! DECAY! LANDI COCKTAILS! MAYHEMISPHERE MAYHEM…
This years mayhemisphere off venue was a lot better planned and organised this year with much more happening inside and out. There was home-made catapults, special hot stone shamanic tents, art installations, a makeshift bar (appropriately named “Blackát”) and the usual mix of corpsepainting and music. the main music highlight for me was the boys from KRAKKSLAUGHTER and NORN, as well as the frankly terrifying video and evil bats/spiders installation from Sigga Björg Sigurðardóttir.
Ironically the drone music from her installation wafted downstairs into a place containing empty shelves and broken TV’s that according to the black metal kids, despite having no art made the place “feel like it was from Silent Hill”. I’ve suggested that perhaps for next year they should have one of the local kids dress up like the girl from “The Ring” and get her to sit in the corner and freak people out. Not a very good place for tripping…
Or rather, just how fucking awesome were HAM? the place went totally mental for those puritanical Icelandic rockers. Several people and myself, who frankly should know better, were not only moshing and thrashing, but stage diving which i admit i haven’t done in a lone while. I may have also thrown my trousers at singer Óttar Proppé, but this can’t quite be corroborated, we shall just put that one down to speculation.
Oh and there were quite a few nipples from some topless female moshers, but people were too interested in HAM to take much notice of THAT! In the past i’ve often made (rather justified) remarks about most Icelandic concert goers inability to let themselves rip and go mental. But I think the problem with HAM on Saturday was they were at one point everyone was going a little too crazy. But, hey it’s an experience that you just have to be there to see….
I also managed to listen to a few songs from a person who had an advance copy of some of the new album that HAM are working on to be released this year. All i can say is, i will definitely be buying it when it comes out.
THE LONG AND WINDING ROADWAY TO HELL THAT GOES ON FOREVER (KILL ME NOW….)
Now the journey back is usually bad enough by road. Expect at least 8-12 hours of hungover driving and that slightly guilty feeling that you may have done something really bad the night before that may come and bite you on the arse in later weeks. But of course this year, there were the flash floods in the east of Iceland that took the main road. This means that the only way back to Reykjavik was to go along the Northern route via Akureyri.
That takes at least 12 hours.
Add to the fact that my travel buddies weren’t ready to leave till after 3pm, meant we didn’t get back into Reykjavik until 3.30am on Monday morning. Euuurgh
Next year I’m taking the bloody plane.
So that’s it! Another Eistnaflug done and dusted and all that i have to show for it was several bruises, a sense of unease at my existence and some intense partying that means that i will be on a diet of mellow soul and carrot juice for the next 3 weeks…
(all pics from the Eistnaflug Facebook profile)