This last post has nothing to do with bands (apart from Mammút – hooray for Mammút!), and everything to do with a ridiculous last night in Reykjavik. Well we’d already checked out of our hostel at 10am, and weren’t leaving till 4am, it’d have been rude to stay indoors. After Björk, there were still 6 hours to kill before our bus to the airport, so I headed to Bakkus (shabbily cool bar with cheapest happy hour in Reykjavik) to find Jamie, Kate, Fabian, Rebecca, Veerle and the remnants of said happy hour. And Rebecca from the Grapevine, who I’d met 18 months previously, in Bakkus, and she remembered me – ace surprise!
After a very quick stop for G&T at the hostel we legged it to Mammút at Gaukur à Stöng (what used to be Sódóma, and I’m sure many other scuzzy venues before it. It’s still just as scuzzy inside. Excellent). Mammút are punky and attention-grabbing, and it’s not hard to draw comparisons between singer Kata and Gwen Stefani’s breathy feist or even Björk’s colourful vocal range. One of my stand-out bands from last year and 20 times better than that this time round.
With 3 more hours to go till our airport bus, we managed to sneak back into Bakkus which was just about to
close have a lock in. Result! Cue lots of dancing with the Reykjavik hipsters (I love that I can go out in my walking boots (I’d packed my good shoes already, woops!) and woolly dress in Reykjavik and not get funny looks in the bar. But maybe that’s just me and I’m just used to dressing down when I go out. I also love the way Icelandic women (and men come to think of it) all seem to look confident and classily quirky – maybe it’s the absence of chain clothes stores and abundance of well-stocked charity shops that helps, but more likely the Icelandic sense of individuality. I’ve never seen an orange faced, bad extensioned overweight slapper falling out of her lycra in Reykjavik. Which is refreshing.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, dancing in Bakkus. Always fun, the DJs always seem to know how to get people on their feet. We were enjoying it so much we didn’t notice that the reason the music finally stopped was because the cops had clocked the lock-in and came in to ask them to close. Nor did I spot Jónsi, who’d been chatting with his mates 3 tables from us all evening, till we were all gathered outside deciding where to go next. He then very quickly and probably very sensibly disappeared. But at least I didn’t feel like the only Airwaves-er not to have bumped into him over the festival.
Now Bob was saying there was a party at i8, and we should go. Did somebody say party?! i8 is a flat above a shop inhabited by two cool Icelandic dudes Steinþór and Atli, and they’ve been having off-venue concerts there the whole of Airwaves. JUST LOOK AT HOW MANY CDs THEY HAVE!!
The flat was super busy, full of Airwaves-ers we knew and Airwaves-ers we didn’t, locals and oddments of bands (the two I remember were Random Recipe and Retro Stefson – one of whom had a spirit level with him to measure the level of drunkenness. An Icelandic thing apparently).
The tunes & dancing just kept coming, the new people to talk to just kept coming, and we had a right good dance and a right good chatter to most people there. And in the best delivered “oops the neighbours have complained” announcement I’ve ever heard, Steinþór let us think the party was over but then invited the neighbours too – this was Reykjavik, this is party town! He even charmed the cops who’d “popped in to make sure everything was ok”.
There were many awesome things about this party (the bottle of Brennivín I was conspiratorially handed from the freezer, with a wink to share it round, was one),
but the nicest thing I think was that everyone was genuinely welcome. If this had been in the UK, we might have got some self-important sneer of derision from the host, assuming we could have found them, and probably would have felt a bit awkward in a corner somewhere until we left after 20 minutes. But Steinþór and Atli were there all night making sure all their guests were having a good time, and instead of looking at me strangely when I waved and shrieked at him that I’d recognised him from the Inspired by Iceland website, Steinþór stopped and grinned, took the time to teach me how to pronounce his name, and was absolutely insistent that we should enjoy ourselves as much as possible. What a lovely man! Although me saying that has probably done his street cred no good at all.
Then I spotted Atli and he was equally nice to us even when I demanded a photo with him. This was a party you leave because you have to, not because you’re not having fun.
But rather reluctantly, leave we had to, with several people’s business cards and flickr and facebook contact details about our persons (later to be peered at in bewilderment). 4.30am came, and we had to say goodbye to Reykjavik and Iceland, and catch our bus to the Airport. And to maybe think about getting some sleep.