Exploring the Dark at Reykjavik Calling

“Oh, so you’re going to see the girly band?” Our neighbor looked sympathetically at my husband, sure he was being dragged to Mammút’s set by me, his wife.

We laughed him off. We had already identified the middle-aged man in the camper next to our tent in the Eistnaflug campground as one of those whose only measure of quality was the yardstick of external genitalia, and knew there was no point in arguing the merits a witchy band like Mammút to such a person. Continue reading

Laser Iceland

The first laser show I ever attended was in a symphony hall in 1991 or 1992. Accompanied by a classic rock soundtrack, green lines flashed around the room, sometimes joined by a smoke machine. I wasn’t particularly impressed.

The next laser show I attended was Northern Lights, part of the annual Taste of Iceland Festival. Hosted in the Pacific Science Center Laser Dome, the free show was set to an hour of Icelandic indie music curated by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole. It was a little different from what I remembered. Continue reading

Tasting Iceland, Naturally

Taste of Iceland, the annual, four-day Icelandic culture festival in Seattle (and a few other cities) turns 10 this year. October is high season for colds in my child-filled household, so I don’t always make it.

For the 10th anniversary, Taste of Iceland is pulling out all the stops, with so many events that they have begun to overlap like a miniature multi-art Airwaves, so even if you dedicate the whole week to it, you couldn’t make it to all the events. I was therefore incredibly stoked to be invited to the press preview. Continue reading

Cat City Reykjavik

When you travel, have you ever noticed that there cat cities and dog cities? Tokyo is a cat city. When I’m in Japan, I always carry a package of dried fish with me to tempt the stray kitties. Everywhere in India, stray dogs roam the streets. There is not a cat to be found. Reykjavik is known for its cats. They even have their own Facebook page. But I didn’t know that at first.


The first time I went to Reykjavik was for Airwaves. It was early November and we partied amidst hurricane-force winds. I didn’t see any cats. The next time it was April and warmer, but I was in class all day and didn’t wander the city much, except in large groups that would scare away any half intelligent animal. But the third time was in July. I was in the Eastfjords most of the time, but I spent my last day at the botanical garden in Reykjavik, marveling at how it looked like a Seattle garden in May, and making friends with this guy.

He never let me get close enough to pat him, but he followed me for nearly an hour as I wandered through the lilacs and buttercups. Reykjavik is a cat city.

Dead Tired

Icelandic horses (don’t call them ponies!) are famous for their extra gait, the tolt, which is unique in the world. But it’s not the only thing unique about them. Unlike horses everywhere else in the world, they do not necessarily sleep standing up. In fact, they often take a break flat on the ground, legs out, in a position most of us associate with dead horses.

Life is tough for Icelandic horses, who stand out in the snow and wind year-round, and rarely enjoy the shelter of a heated barn like horses elsewhere. Do they get dead tired battling the weather all the time? Or are they just clever little horses that know how to below the wind when there’s no shelter to be found?

Young Blood

I don’t normally put pictures of other people’s kids on the internet, but these pictures are three years old and these boys are probably big enough to beat you up by now. At Eistnaflug in 2014, this group of kids was always hanging around the venue – sometimes sneaking inside it, too, since the festival was still 18+ back then.

In the documentary Eistnaflug DVD, they talk about how the festival has introduced a generation of small-town kids to heavy music, and I remember people talking about some local boys who had formed a band called Blodstafir in tribute to Iceland’s famous export band Solstafir. At the time, I wondered if it was the same group I’d seen recklessly skating in front of the venue, looking like they’d ride straight into the water of the fjord at the bottom of the hill.

I imagine that if I go back to the festival in Neskaupstadur in a couple of years, I’ll look up at the stage and find out.