10 August 2006

transplanted hipsters

So, before I start on what happened LAST weekend, I guess I should talk about the Belle & Sebastian concert, the big reason for all that driving and exploring of eastern fjords.

On Saturday night, the four of us who were going to the concert put on our best shimmery eye makeup and fabulous outfits, and piled into K's mom's jeep for the ride to a fjord a few north of where we were all staying. Those of us who weren't driving brought bottles of wine and plastic cups, which we poured whenever it wasn't too bumpy on the drive up over the mountain pass. In the valley where Egilsstaðir lies, we drove north along the lake, pausing when K spotted a short-eared owl on a fencepost. We watched as it took off, the wings swooping with silent power parallel to the car before it disappeared towards the lake.

We continued on north to climb another mountain ridge, descending into a valley and then skirting round another mountain before we reached our destination, Borgafjörður Eystri. Unfortunately, we were late enough to have missed Emilíana Torrini altogether (apparently the concert started on time. Who's EVER heard of that, especially here in Iceland?) so we joined the crowds milling outside the concert venue, a herring storage shed next to the water. The dress code was heavy on the lopapeysa, but on the whole it was as fabulous as a weekend in Reykjavík, and the camaraderie was quite the same. Being with three Icelanders meant lots of stopping to talk, lots of "gaman að sjá þig", and plenty of cheek kissing.

When Belle & Sebastian were set up, everyone packed back in the herring shed for the second half of the show. I've been incredibly fortunate that somehow I manage to experience a lot of great bands live for the first time, and this show was no exception to the trend. I'd only heard a few songs before and had no feeling for their music, so it was a great treat to be in this tiny venue with all these excited Icelanders. I inched up close enough that I could see everyone on the stage and only had a few beer-sloshing concertgoers near me, and took a few photos. Unfortunately, my camera is somewhat antique so this is the best I got. Still, the upbeat flavor of the music and the rustic setting was definitely memorable, and from the Belle & Sebastian website I gather that they also had a great time here (check out the photos of them playing soccer with local kids here. The feeling was definitely that we were all part of the same group, instead of the Hallowed Performers and we the lowly audience, which is one of the things that is so great about going to any kind of music or theater or art show here. Someone always has some connection to the group in some way, so it makes them seem like real people who just happen to like making whatever art they are demonstrating. It's a much cozier feeling than going to a concert at the massive Fleet Center in Boston (I think it has some other name now... can't keep it straight!) and makes me love this funny, tiny land even more.

After the concert, everyone poured out into the foggy darkness, milling about and drinking beer. Somehow K and I ended up on the far side of the building, where the rocks dropped away to the ocean, and racks of hakarl hung drying in tidily-hung rows. Where else but in Iceland can you find pieces of shark drying a few meters from where some internationally-loved musicians were just performing?

Ship sighting: I can confirm that the Vistamar did arrive safely, since I spotted the bright yellow stripe around her midsection peeking from between the customs office and the city library earlier this evening.


cK said...

Wow. The whole experience, right down to the shark meat hanging to dry, is something of a Belle & Sebastian narrative. Perhaps they will turn your journey into a song?

My favorite weird line of theirs: "I was so touched I was moved to kick the crutches from my crippled friend!"

Sue said...

It's the TD North Garden now. Or something like that. Basically the Boston Garden, like old times.

dtw said...

Ah, I'll take such small and intimate settings over stadium or other major venue concerts anyday. Both the journey and the destination seem excellent.

Like sb said in the blog entry above, you've found some great travel partners. I hope you can keep enjoying Iceland like that!

ECS said...

CK- they did seem to enjoy their experience here, so it's a possibility. Iceland can be very surreal and weird.

Sue- Thanks for the info, although I'm probably going to forget as quickly as the name changes. I think that during my time in Boston it had three names.

DTW- I don't know many people myself who DO like huge venues. As for my travel partners, I have found several kindred spirits, and in general it seems that people do want to make the most of the very short summer here. I'm just happy for the chance to tag along!