by Heiða Eiríks
Wednesday 9th of July
We are yet again gathered together in Norðfjörður, in Neskaupsstaður, to witness the wonderful Eistnaflug, a metal-rock-punk-festival that is not going away, and actually gathering strength every year. This year’s 10th anniversary pre-sale tickets sold out and you can see a visible increase in the number of people who are already at the festival for the pre-program that is sceduled for Wednesday the 9th of July. On the bill are Severed, Brain Police and Skálmöld‘s all ages gigs, followed by Sólstafir‘s premiere of the new album Ótta, coming out next autumn.
Me and my travelling partner decided to hitch-hike to Eistnaflug this year, and we left Reykjavík at 06.42 with bus number 5 that took us to the highway, and 13 cars and 14 hours later we arrived in Neskaupsstaður, just after 20.00. This hitchhiking addition to the normal traditions of Eistnaflug might be a keeper, as we had so much fun.
Tents up, happy campers set off to see the Sólstafir gig and what a gig we experienced. This band is on a mission to conquer the world and Addi’s voice has never sounded better. The intensity of some of the songs really sets the barrier high for the rest of the weekend and now I finally feel the effect of having landed in my favorite festival of Iceland. I fly home, high on rock-music, hoping to crash immediately, only to find that my cheap sleeping bag is in no way fit to keep me warm during the night, and my decision to save more money and not buy a matress under the sleeping bag was another mistake. I am freeeeeeezing and I can’t remember how I finally fell asleep but I wake up after around 5 hours, mouldy and sour.
Thursday, 10th of July
The only real way to start the day is at the bakery and at the swimming pool so those rituals are kept, and all in good time because the first band on stage in Egilsbúð, Eistnaflug‘s main stage, is Godchilla and they start at 13.05!
And what a show they put on. I am a relatively new fan, just started listening to their stuff, and never saw them play before. The band is tight and the bass sound is torn and cool. I am not disappointed and after the gig I buy their home-made promo CD and their T-shirt.
Azoic played technical metal, two guitars and one bass, and those three together had the
equivalent of 20 strings, not a bad string average for a band.
Next up Kælan mikla, three girls that won a poetry-slam-competition, claim to play poetry-punk and their performance was intimidating. Calm and collected, as well as cold and angry, and that combination send shivers down my spine.
Nevolution, glamrock with experimental deathmetal tendencies was very loud and I had to go out to breath and discovered beautiful weather outside. Sunny and warm, it was hard to go back inside, but the blackmetal-band Carpe Noctem lured me in. It seized the night and the day for everybody and afterwards, inspired by that show, I went out and got me some corpsepaint, another habit that is hard to break when in Eistnaflug.
Skepna, a new band of frontman Hallur Ingólfsson put on a great show, a combination of catchy songs and funny oneliners. The guy thanked us for coming in from the sun to enjoy some refreshing heavy metal, but said that unfortunately it would only be performed by the next band after. It cracked me up, and I think that getting the audience to laugh is the best way to win over new fans. Everyone loved that band and I finished the show and then ran out to do some more sunbathing in between bands.
Malignant mist had a nice crowd, and played a lot of new material. Very intense set and the crowd appreciated it.
Strigaskór nr. 42 (translates: Sneakers no. 42) is one of the bands I had been waiting to see. Last gigs I had seen turned my whole world upside down, and there was no change to that. Incredibly cool people with fine crafted music. I can’t wait for their next album to come out.
Angist plays deathmetal, and I like their attitude even if the music is not my favorite. I had to eat at some point and so I ran out for a quick bite, but only after I saw the first song. I came back in time to catch some of Innvortis, one of 3 bands that has played all ten editions of the festival and rumour has it, they never change their set, so this year’s set list is the same as the one in 2013 and 2012 etc. Why change it if it works?
The moment for Momentum has arrived, a wonderful slow indescribable rock/stoner/experimental band, currently working on their second album. Their singalong „Holding back“ is a real crowd-pleaser and I absolutely scream myself hoarse in unison with the rest of the people and it is very tempting to go straight to sleep after that gig, as I am overwhelmed and happy. I nevertheless stick it out because I want to see some of all the bands today, a task I set myself and want to accomplish.
Sign are very impressive with old and new material and Ragnar Sólberg really looks great on stage, and his voice is out of this world good. A true superstar.
Brain Police is next to last and I totally love that band, and their frontman Jenni is yet another phenomenon of a singer. But the real magic happens with his charisma. He must have fallen into a barrel of magic at some point in his life because he simply looks at people and they smile and laugh.
Last band on the bill, At the gates, are from Sweden, and I feel like I am the only one that doesn‘t like them. Boyfriend and friends are anticipating this like hell, and I am like „hey, sure, I‘ll check them out“. I had heard some songs I liked by them, but definitely not a fan. It turns out I am not into them live at all, so I just bid my farewells and escape into dreamland in my tent. I am a bit disappointed but it‘s not like I didn‘t see 13 gigs that I liked today, so I quickly recover and doze off.
Friday 11th of July
Oh the Icelandic weather is playing tricks on us. If only we‘d have gotten more of yesterday‘s sun, but alas, rain has joined this festival and so we wake up at 9 o’clock in puddles. We quickly set to rescue all valuables and electric equipment to our car and then take all our clothes and blankets and sleeping bags to be dried at the swimming pool. I still manage a quick version of the morning ritual of bakery and swimming, but really have to haste as today’s program starts at 11:50 with Pink Street Boys.
What a band and how absolutely clever it is to start each day with some upcoming geniouses to get people going at an early time. I love this band and I learn they have a casette coming out (google them to get the details). All my sorrows disappear with their healing noise-garage punk-rock. Hey, it’s Friday and I don’t care if my tent is all wet and I don’t know where I am sleeping tonight and it won’t stop raining.
Next up, Oni, a local band with a fresh album, their first, just out days before the festival. Heavily influenced by Brain Police and the likes, but they rock and write really nice tunes.
In The Company Of Men (ITCOM for shorts) have a sick vocalist, and this time their sick vocalist is also literally sick, as in bed sick, so they get friends and fans to screem their lungs out to some songs. Hard-core rock with some ecclectic twist. To put it in simple terms: This show is awsome. Never have enough ITCOM in my life. Some guitar-trouble doesn‘t even ruin it, as their fans just wait quietly for the next bit of crazyness to start.
I am desperate for more coffee and I have to find out how our tent is doing so I only see the beginning of the black-metal band Morð and then run to the bakery, gather up my gang and we do an inventory of camping gear and tent. Find it too wet still, try to dry it up some, and finally locate a floor somewhere to crash on for the night and set up camp there.
I miss most of Morð and all of Reykjavíkurdætur in this process, but having a roof over your head is worth all that.
Next band I see is Rotþróin, old time punks from Húsavík, reminds me a bit of Birthday Party (really cool!) and then I have to run to catch a few of the first bands that play in the off-venue Mayhemisphere.
Narthraal plays blackmetal, quite noisy and dark, and they start at 16.00 just when Rotþróin is finishing. I see half of Narthraal ´s show but manage to get all of Godchilla‘s set, who are next up, as well as Brák and Á geigsgötum, two upcoming bands from Akureyri. I am only driven away from Mayhemisphere because of too much smoke from the smoke-machine, it turns out I have an allergic reaction to it. Super rock and roll, but I have to lie down and take a nap to recover so I miss the oportunity to see Pink Street Boys again, as well as about 5 bands in the main venue.
I finally get myself in gear and skiddled to Egilsbúð in time to catch the few last songs of The Vintage Caravan. Super happy not to have missed it all, as this band is really going places. Party atmosphere has settled in with the usual suspects of crowd-surfing and circle pit, but with Sólstafir up next everyone and their granny is crammed inside Egilsbúð with no room to do anything but dive into the music itself. This might be the most intense gig I have seen by Sólstafir, ending in a grand fiasko-fiesta of confetti on stage that looks and feels like a snowstorm. I don‘t know why but they play like the world is about to end. And it does for me after this gig. I listen to my body and soul and crawl back to my now dry sleeping bag inside a house, totally and blizzfully happy to be in this Rockheaven that Eistnaflug is.
Saturday 12th of July
Last day is already up, and after the usual morning bakery (fewer and fewer people show up early in the morning) I get a little swimming action going and then straight to the first gig at 13.05 where AMFJ is playing his noise-laden out of control electro-doom-drone. I don‘t even try to listen without earplugs, and he keeps his status as the loudest motherfucker in Iceland (AMFJ stands for Aðalsteinn Mother Fucking Jörundsson). His crazyness smears onto the brave people who attend and we all profit immencely. Next band is just as crazy (though a little quieter).The happy-punk-lucky Skelkur í bringu, with frontgirl Steinunn aka DJ Flugvél og Geimskip (google it), entertain and bedazzle at the same time. They might well be the happiest punks on the planet, or even in the whole universe for that matter.
During Darknote we ate pizza in Egilsbúð so we heard their set whilst engulfing the food down our pipes, quickly so we wouldn’t miss Hindurvættir, another new and exiting band from Akureyri, a part of the new post blackmetal wave.
I opted to skip the otherwise fantastic band Grísalappalísa for a gig in the Mayhemisphere. Saktmóðigur, old-time punkers, decided to rehearse and perform the music of „Legill“, a casette they released 20 years ago, for the special occation of the 10 year anniversary of Eistnaflug. I love the band, music’s great, people are even greater, and that gig was legendary.
We stick around to watch the beginning of Selló Stína, experimental Cello project, but then we just need time out. We just want to ride the exitement-waves and enjoy the afterburn of Saktmóðigur‘s gig just a little longer, so we drive around in our car, buy candy and eat it and buy icecream and eat that too. Until the time Ophidian I starts, someone had told me I‘d like their intensity, and they were right. They have a 7 string bass and a vocalist with a crazy range, and I absolutely love them. I had never seen that band before, but before I know I am headbanging wildly with the crowd of established fans and totally ignore the fact it is only 18.30 and I still have a lot of concerts to see that evening. I kind of know I won’t see everything, the mind is willing but it has to answer to the 40-something body. We go back to Mayhemisphere after some hanging around, see a wonderfully weird and slow and gloomy Sólstafir-gig and then just eat something and hang out some more and don‘t rush. There is no need to rush on the fourth day into a festival, I am just happy I am still standing by now. I am too tired to do much more, I would have like to stick around until the end but now all I can think about is catching some of HAM’s gig, one of my favourite bands in the world, and then just catching sleep, and preparing for the long drive home the day after. Rain is not making it any easier, and this night I kinda just put my earplugs in and sleep in all my clothes under all the blankets and hope for the best.
It works and I sleep through the last night’s final hurrahs and the latest parties, and even if I didn’t do well on the last night, gigwise that is, I still managed to see around 35 bands in four days! I am grateful and happy, but still sad it is over. I don‘t know why this festival is never old, never boring, and never repeats itself, even if it is still just another rock’n’roll event. It’s got to be the people and the location. It’s just so pure. People are there for the mutual love and respect of one another and the music they share. I don’t know. I wish we could replace cristmas and have Eistnaflug twice a year. Hey, while we’re at it, let’s skip easter too! Once every two months?