Friday, October 18
it's time that the iceland saga [for it must be a saga: iceland is the country of the saga. one of the guidebooks said that sagas are iceland's greatest contribution to western culture. i didn't stay at the radisson saga hotel, but i did stay in a "saga class" room at hotel esja] be told.
i do want to wrap up a few other things first though, the end of what happened before iceland. like for breakfast the day before we left we made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. the bacon was hannah's idea. it was really good. that's all. sometimes it's a good day to eat breakfast.
next : alarms were set for seven, we were on the road no less than an hour later than intended. only one mishap (claire got a speeding ticket going the long way around albany) marred our progress, but rush-hour traffic engulfing the metropolis forced us to revise plans for meeting the coxes. this was kind of surreal:
they've revamped the airport completely
now it looks just like a nightclub
no kidding. no idle lyric-quoting. have you been to jfk recently? terminal seven, at least, has been outfitted with reams of colored, psychedelic lights. so we (hannah, 'lyssa, claire, plus rob, sister, mum) sat beneath potted palms in the atrium of the check-in lobby, under the revolving disco lights, played word mastermind, and ate chinese takeout.
and then we (just rob and i) went to iceland. after reading the feature on the festival in the inflight magazine and eating some surprisingly good chicken curry, i slept for the remainder of the shortish flight.
we arrived early (7:00?) their time, walked through the empty, gorgeously-wooden-floored keflavík airport, changed money (i switched $60 for something like 5800 ISK, but so much of the country runs on credit that i hadn't even spent all that cash by the time i left), and took the flybus to esja.
due to construction (gearing up to become the largest hotel in iceland, at a whopping 284 rooms) our promised panoramic-view "junior suite" was unavailable, but they kindly gave us an extra room at no charge so we didn't have to share a bed. the rooms were also wood floored and wood furnished, not rustic wood but funky modernist wood, and with elaborate tv sets whose wake-up function (a bizarre beepy melody) we had mostly figured out by the end of the trip.
we slept for a few hours again, and then set off to explore the city. first stop was festival central, where i wasn't thinking on my toes fast enough to snag some promo cds for press folks (duh i'm press, why didn't i think of that in time, and then i couldn't convince them). but they did direct us to the "exclusive" "party," which turned out to be a question-and-answer session with current hypees Apparat Organ Quartet.
Apparat are depicted on their album cover and posters as colorfully attired playmobil figures, and here they were faithfully wearing that clothing: preposterously euro-chic, glasses, brightly colored corduroy suits, clever hair and neckties, the whole bit. questions were relayed through a tall fellow with pink bowtie and tan suit, round blond head and facial hair and a manic happy face. the band demonstrated the "sitting version" of their eponymous "appa-dance." then, even more excitingly, they showed us the dance ("dance" for them means hand gestures) which follows the words [see below - ed.] of their apparent hit single "stereo rock and roll." and five young red- t-shirted ballerinas came out and extrapolated on the dance.
there was a kid in the audience, who i only mention because he comes into play later on in the story, who looked exactly like jae won chung. perhaps even more exaggerated in glasses and spiky hair. purple velvet jacket. tan sweater with thin horizontal turquoise stripes.
anyway, we hung around the mingling afterwards for a bit, talking to the interviewer guy (who turned out to front one of the bands we saw that night, Trabant) and some members of Apparat, and enjoying the complimentary honey-and-vodka. then out into the cold again.
a few hours to kill in downtown reykjavík, which is essentially one street (although it changes names a couple times). a helpful sign even identifies it (in english): "the main shopping street." we found two record shops, one slightly more indie than the next, really expensive (new cds were usually about 2400 ISK, which is nearly thirty bucks, even without VAT) but enticing, with listening stations of the current local releases. I flipped through used vinyl and found a prime condition copy of Prince's Lovesexy for 400kr and a Rinocerose 12" for 300.
dinner at 22, recommended by one of the record store clerks (he also said "icelandic food is not a delicacy. it has usually been stored for six months.") we never found a menu with any hint of the purported local specialties such as rotten shark and sheeps head, just plenty of fish. good though. rob and i split most meals, and took some bread for the road.
because nights are long at the airwaves festival, and it was good to have something to munch on when they ended. we missed thursday, the first night of club shows, so friday was our first. we started at the neatly lit nasa, which seemed to have a flourescent aquatic theme, but the first-up rock band didn't move us much, so we headed over to idno (really ithno; i can make ? but not the character that means soft th that looks like a d with lines through it), billed as "alternative."
first up there was daniel agust, who wore a black shirt with ruffles down the back, strings hanging from the arms, and some sort of wings. he danced around bizarrely and sang (intensely) everything from nature poetry to "you don't need nobody else baby," to the accompaniment of a tuxedoed string quintet that vacated the stage one by one and played offstage, and a fellow with a powerbook.
we went back to nasa to catch the last three songs of singapore sling (strokes-ish hard-rocking sixties-throwbacks), but mostly we stayed at idno all night, for bang gang (two austere blond-beauty singers, plus multi-instrumentalists and a big gong, with one really really catchy drum-and-bassy-ish pop song), ske (we'd heard their record in the store; folksy mellow but weird rock with different singers on each song), and trabant (keyboards and freakout - mr. bowtie ended the set without a shirt.) we also caught a bit of serious hardcore punk by mínus over at some other club, and missed quix*o*tic. i would have stayed out to check out the house and trance and electro, which was scheduled at different clubs until three, but rob wanted to get back so we took a taxi home around midnight.
that's day one, or one and a half.
rock and roll
rock and roll
rock and roll
rock and roll