There was a movie in the 80s, sort of Romancing the Stone crossed with Indiana Jones, but less memorable than that mix should have been, in which the bad guy was always taking photographs of his crimes. In a deep, heavily accented voice, he would say, “A moment, captured in time,” and then leave the heroes to die.
Earlier this summer I read a book called “Time Travel,” by James Gleick. It’s an interesting mix of history, physics, and philosophy that draws from H.G. Wells and Einstein equally to examine the concept of time travel. He talks about “old light,” and the fact that when we look at the sky and see stars, we are seeing light that has traveled millennia. The stars themselves may no longer exist by the time we see them.
I’ve been thinking about that idea lately. The building in this picture was once a fish factory. For years it stood empty, except for a few days each summer when underground musicians tracked extension cords across the puddles on the floor and set up their equipment for a series of off-venue concerts in the middle of the Eistnaflug festival. The rest of the year, the building sat unused, gradually decaying in the wet and cold of Eastern Icelandic weather.
In the year after I stood inside this building watching hooded violinists play black metal, this building was torn down. Some of the bands that played in that building the year I took this picture are world famous now. The building itself is gone, though. I can look at it right now in my picture, but it is long gone, like the music scene it once housed.
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.
I’ve never quite understood why photos of set lists are so popular. But any time I get close enough to the stage or soundboard to get a shot of one, I feel compelled to take a photo. Maybe the urge is universal?
At my first Eistnaflug (2014) REYKJAVÍKURDÆTUR was a stand-out act for me. They were one of the only bands I interviewed (unfortunately I never found an outlet for that interview – I should probably post it here one of these days). I probably would have been taken with the band regardless of the circumstances of discovery, because they are doing something quite new and original. But I think their feminist hip-hop, rapped in Icelandic, stood out all the more for being surrounded by the testosterone-laden atmosphere of a metal and punk festival.
I’ve noticed that my favorite shows at festivals are often the ones that don’t conform to the format. I like the rock bands at folksy Doe Bay Fest, the metal bands at Bumbershoot. Maybe the other acts blend together in the memory while the misfits stand out.
I once interviewed Gudny, the woman who booked Eistnaflug for many years, and she commented on how important it was to add stylistic variety to the line-up, even for a festival with as specific a focus as Eistnaflug. She said the oddball acts serve as a palate cleanser. Like smelling coffee beans when sampling perfume, or sorbet at a tasting menu, electronica between metal bands or metal between pop sets clear the head. “No matter how you love it,” she said, “You can’t just listen to one thing for three solid days.”
Earlier this year I was contacted by Siggi Jensson, the creator of the Eistnaflug 2014 10th Anniversary four-DVD box set. Was I interested in receiving a press copy for review? Unfortunately, I had to say, ‘No’ because I had already purchased the box set in question. But why would I sit on a historical document like that without reviewing it? No reason at all. So here it is. Continue reading
Fifteen years ago, I spent three months in India. Before I left, my husband gave me two gifts – a really nice pocket knife, and a Petzl headlamp. Both proved invaluable. Although the knife was later stolen, I still have the headlamp, and I still use it. It has accompanied me to multiple continents. I’ve used it on night hikes, to find the bathroom at state campgrounds, and harvesting vegetables from my back yard late in the season. It’s one of the best gifts my husband ever bought me. He ended up buying one for himself, too.
But when we were packing for our recent trip to Eistnaflug, the heavy metal festival in a remote fjord in Eastern Iceland, I pulled both headlamps from the pile on our bed of things to be packed.
“You don’t think we’ll need them?” he asked in the voice of careful doubt men reserve for moments when they suspect a woman has lost her mind.
“We’re not going to need them,” I answered.
When I left the room, he put them back in.
“They don’t take much space,” he said, tucking his headlamp into his backpack as I pulled mine back out and put it in a drawer.
Spring is ticket season. Season ticket season, that is. I’ve already talked about the temptations of season tickets to Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Seattle Children’s Theatre. The truth is, I will try to attend as many performances by each of these worthy organizations as I can, but I did not buy season tickets to any of them. What did I ultimately spend my own money on? Continue reading