23 August 2006

getting cultural

I've been holding off on posting this since I left my camera at a friend's house, but I guess the pictures will just have to wait.

On Saturday I joined friends downtown to see what the deal about Menningarnótt (cultural night... actually more like cultural day) was. It proved to be the biggest crowd/entertainment I've seen, one of the first times here where I felt like there was actually not enough time to do all the exciting and interesting things on offer. Almost every shop and boutique on Laugavegur was offering up some kind of tunes and free samples, and the streets were jammed with strollers (both the walking and wheeled types). The three of us did the necessary Laugavegur cruise and then went to hear some resonant jazz in the Reykjavík Art Museum. This lovely, airy building is right by the sea, with a splendid harbor view from their well-stocked art library. Upstairs, I meandered through the Carnegie Art Award show, where Eggert Pétursson's canvases captivated me for the longest of any other piece there (please don't google image search- you will NOT be amazed. The gorgeous botanical details look like mud unless viewed live).

After a Thai dinner next to some extremely polite (and surprised at how good the food was) English people, I went to see my co-worker performing on the main Landsbankinn stage. As I mentioned before, his group has quite a following here, so I was in the midst of a herd of teenage boys that knew every lyric to every song. It was the first time seeing him live and I have to say I'm a groupie now. Nothing quite as awesomely obscure as Icelandic country/bluegrass, and they are GREAT live.

Up next, another Icelandic group with a decent following, Benni Hemm Hemm. They're the archetypal Icelandic sound- well-rehearsed, full of meandering trumpet sounds, taking traditional Icelandic themes and adding rock-sounds, and with a personality all their own (one guitarist was in full 80's tracksuit and mutton-chop mustache style).

We stayed partway through a third group, Mezzoforte, apparently quite The Thing in the 80's. They played a few classic-sounding tunes before we decided to depart, overdosing on the smooth bachelor-pad vibes. One thing I will say about them and all the other performances I saw- everyone looked like they were having a jolly time playing that evening. It's also the first time I've been to a concert where there were almost more seagulls flying over than attendees.

Fireworks closed the festivities (rather uninteresting when compared to the New Years extravaganza here) followed by the biggest traffic jam I've seen here as the suburb-dwellers returned to their homes. It was actually kind of exciting in its novelty though- people pouring to their eccentrically parked cars after an activity packed day, layers of music still running through their ears.

Ship sighting: On Saturday night there were dozens of sailboats out in the dark harbor, their rigging trimmed with red fairylights. It was a magical sight to see all these gliding triangles of light in the blackness. Another ship, the Turmoil, looking suspiciously like a modified-for-pleasure former fishing boat was tied up in the center dock. It's not big enough to be on the google image radar though, so you'll just have to imagine what it looked like. Very shiny.


cK said...

Not that you're looking for even more blogging (on your part), but I don't believe there's a daily photo blog yet for Reykjavik. I don't believe there's one for Iceland. And as you have many photos, you might join the daily city photo ring. Here's a link to the Copenhagen blog:


No worries.

As for Icelandic musicians, I think they, along with Japanese musicians, can pull off any look on stage and we'll say it's right. I don't know what that quality is, but the two nations seem to have it. Or perhaps this is a blanket thought only I have, and perhaps I apply it only to island nations? I retire into thought. ...

Anonymous said...

out of curiousity. is the email in yer profile actually yours?

ECS doesn't seem to line up w/ jaboter.

sent an email to it last week.

- graham

ECS said...

greetings again CK! I appreciate the blogging thought, but I think I'm not diligent or talented enough for that much visual output just yet. I'll keep it in mind though! Plus, my daily life is not quite as fascinating as it might seem. There is plenty of the quotidian swink to be had, and much of it isn't very photo-worthy.

As for the Iceland-Japan connection, it's interesting you should mention it, as several Icelandic bands have had decent success performing in Japan. Benni Hemm Hemm actually were just there. I think some of it is just Music People, but perhaps there IS something about island nations that feel the need to (or are more interested in) assert their individual identity. I now shall also retire into thought...

Graham- the email address in the profile is an ancient email that was created on a whim early in college. Having the link there seems to make me prone to spam so I don't have anything closer to home there. However, I DID get your email and I DID reply, I believe only a day later.

Anonymous said...


my hotmail spam thingy creates more confusion than good.

will check hotmail after work.

- graham.

Anonymous said...

You have a blessed life!

gk said...

Any news from the apartment front?